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 Can be read as a standalone, or as part six of my marshallsdeadverse. the other fics in the verse are Not Breathing, and Barely Afloat, Breathing You, Unspoken, and Change. AN3 Thanks for giving me support on the first part of this idioticonion!
It had been four weeks since Lily had seen more than a glimpse of Barney. Four weeks since their silent little explosion. The silent explosion where she said so little…, and he heard so much.
But even after four weeks, the debris of their explosion continued to flitter and flutter down around her.
And Lily simply continued to pretend that nothing was wrong with her life. Nothing wrong with them.
She pretended when she was home alone, puttering around the apartment, his things still there, still speaking to her.
She pretended when she was with their friends, hanging out with Ted or Robin; and his name came up in conversation….
She even pretended when they were out in public, all of them – Ted, Robin, herself… Barney – she forced herself to pretend everything was okay.
And she was rather good at pretending. Hiding behind a fake smile.
She was rather good at pretending, that is, until just now. Just now, at this very moment when Barney walked into the bar with a brunette on his arm; a brunette who, from this moment forward will be identified as: Slut.
Slut is tall and curvy, with tits out to 'there'… and she's dressed like, well…, like the super-whore she clearly is.
Because, of course, super-whores are the type of women Barney Stinson is drawn to. Stacked super-whores.
I stare at Slut's tits before surreptitiously glancing down at my own chest; I push the girls forward a bit. It doesn't help much. Damnit.
"Hey guys," Barney swung his date around to face the table, "this is Becky. Becky, this is… everyone."
Slut leans into Barney with a giggle, her hand curving under the lapel of his suit, "Betty. It's Betty, Barney." She kisses his cheek tipsily. "Hee, hee, we're Barney and Betty. Like the Rubbles." Her hand traipses along his body as if it belongs to her.
As the group greets her with mild enthusiasm, Slut frowns and elucidates, "You know… Barney and Betty Rubble…, from the Flintstones?!"
"Brilliant observation, Betty. How'd you come up with that?" The words are out of my mouth before I know it. And immediately, I know I should have kept my mouth shut. Speaking will only get me in trouble. Give me away. I seal my lips as Slut responds.
"Oh, I don't know… It just came to me." She smiles cluelessly and settles next to me in the booth.
Great, now I'm closer to the tits… the clearly plastic tits. And even better, I can feel his eyes on me. He heard the sarcasm in my voice; and now he's looking at me, a question in his eyes. The eyes I can't meet.
"So Betty," Slut, "How did you and Mr. Rubble meet?" My lips are moving again, unprompted by my mind.
"Mr. Rubble?" Betty's face scrunches in confusion, and then it clears as the low-watt light bulb lights up above her head. "Ohhhhhh! Mr. Rubble! Hee hee hee, Umm, Barney and I met earlier today at the grocery store. We were by the fruits and vegetables and he told me he liked my melons. Which was really funny, because, I wasn't looking at the melons, I was looking the cherries."
I finally lift my gaze to Barney's. With my eyes I ask: 'really'?. Really Barney? IQ the same size as her bra?
He clears his throat "So Bec-erh-Betty, another drink?" Without waiting for her response he escapes from his chair and heads to the bar.
So what the fuck was that? He milled around the bar, not bothering to catch the bartender's eyes. He needed to think. Lily was confusing him. Again. Still. Perpetually. He'd thought they had something…. Something he couldn't name.
With Lily, Barney had felt a peace he'd never felt with anyone before. And then… then she withdrew; concealed herself from him. One day she'd been right in front of him… all strawberries and cream, and cinnamon… and the next, she was gone.
He'd looked for her. Searched for her in their… her… bed. He'd held the frame that he'd come to worship… to desire, and he'd found it just that. A frame. Empty and devoid. Not even right after the loss of Marshall had she seemed so empty. Then, she'd been smoky and ashy and shattered; but now? The last few weeks that he had touched her? Been with her? She'd been nothing more than a shell. And he didn't know why.
At first, he'd thought… maybe… maybe she was hiding from him. That she was scared. Scared of the 'something' that was happening between them. But after three weeks of silence. Three weeks of the empty shell of Lily – facing him, looking at him. He'd let go of that thought. He'd ignored the nameless ache in the center of his gut, and he'd taken the hint.
And now, here he was, a month later; and the ache had become a constant pain. Constantly scratching and biting at him.
Throughout the past few weeks he'd been tortured. It was all mental. Emotional. But it was torture none the less.
He didn't eat. He did drink. He didn't go out with women. He barely made it to work each day. And every night, he found himself lying alone in his bed, his hand on his turgid cock, dreaming of touching… fucking Lily.
Of course, while HE knew he was fading away, the world around him was oblivious. He was still the consummate performer. He continued to put in his appearances around Robin and Ted, amazing them with his magic, his ego, his tales of conquest; they were good friends, but so blind.
Perhaps their blindness was catching. Because he was questioning his own eyesight tonight.
Lily had been sarcastic.
Not that she didn't do sarcastic. She did. She did it well.
But she'd been sarcastic to a stranger. To his date. To Becky, erh, Betty.
And that wasn't Lily's style. She'd pick on any member of the gang, snark at them sunrise to sunset. But with strangers? Lily was the accepting one. The welcoming one.
So what the hell happened with Betty?
He glanced back at the table, watching everyone as they chit chatted. Watching Lily. He blinked and turned back to the bar. "One Sam Adams – in the bottle, and a glass of the house white."
"…so as Robin was saying," Ted leaned across the table his eyes intent on Lily, "We think it's time you start dating."
Are you fucking kidding me? He forces himself not to look over at her.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Lily screeches, then turns beet red when she realizes she's the center of attention in the bar.
"Lily, it's time." Robin supports Ted's assertion.
"No. No it's not time."
Ted jumps back in to the argument. "Lily it's like Barney always says, if you fall off your ride, pick up your saddle and hop back on…. You need to hop back on."
Barney can feel the anger emanating from Lily and he's actually a little happy. He hadn't felt anything from her in a month, so even anger was a good thing. That being said, he wasn't too happy with where this discussion was heading. Lily wasn't ready to date. She's mine. She wasn't ready to be with someone else. She's mine.
Jesus, I'm a selfish bastard.
"I'm not ready to hop. Or to ride." Lily bit out, anger and embarrassment vying for vantage. Her eyes slice toward Barney. "A dead husband isn't like a horse." She looks back at Ted and Robin. "You don't just pull the saddle off and mount the next stallion that comes along."
"Lily, it's been over a year."
"Is there a time limit?" She glances at me again, quickly, almost imperceptibly. "Is there a time limit for grief?"
And her insides are clawing at her now. Eleven months. It only took me eleven months to let Barney into my bed. Whatever laws existed for grieving and propriety??? I smashed them. I gave up on Marshall.
Robin looked at Ted, her face clearly reading 'I thought she was over this mourning stuff?'
His responding shrug clearly reading 'Gee, I thought so too.'
And Barney was suddenly done for the night. The anger seeping from Lily's skin had been one thing, it had been almost cathartic. What he couldn't stand was the pain… and the accusations. He could feel both pouring out of her now; and his hands itched to touch her skin, to sooth her. But he knew he wasn't allowed.
"Well it's been swell guys, but Bec-ty and I have to leave." He stood up. "Places to go, things to do." Reaching for Betty's arm he pulled the confused, tipsy woman out of the booth.
"We're going, Barnenneeeeyyy?"
"Need to get you home and into bed." He turned on the charm as he slipped his arm around her waist, supporting her sagging frame.
"Ooooh," Betty giggled and let her hands drift from Barney's chest to his belly. "Bed, huh?"
Letting his gaze sweep over the members of the table he paused at Lily. "Goodnight everyone."
She couldn't breathe; couldn't think as his eyes flashed over hers. And then he and Slut were leaving, walking out of the bar.
"Lil?" Robin placed her hand on Lily's arm.
"I'm sorry. I – I love you guys for wanting me to be happy. But, I don't know if I'm ready yet." I'm a selfish bitch. I gave up on Marshall. I let him go. For… for… Barney.
"Lily…" Ted started.
"No. Thanks. But no." She slid out of the booth and stumbled to the front door. Drunk with self loathing.
Barney opened the taxi door and shuffled, pushed, guided Betty into the back. Slamming the door shut he walked to the front and repeated the address Betty had slurred in his direction. He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and counted out the fare and a substantial tip before tapping the hood of the cab and backing away from the curb.
After the cab had moved down the street a few feet, a confused Betty staring out the back window in his direction, Barney turned around and found himself face to face with Lily. His mind screamed: my Lily.
Her eyes were wide, and her skin pale, she looked tired, and confused, and surprised. She took a step towards him; her body and her mind directing her to do opposing things. "No Rubble Rumble in the bedroom to night?"
He smiled tightly. "No." So now is when I say, I only have eyes for you? That nothing tastes as sweet as you? That I need you? He remained silent.
She tried again. "I would have thought you'd be all over… that. I mean – she was built, drunk, and dumb." She had moved two steps closer to him as she spoke. And now she was just a foot, maybe two, away from him. "That is the Barney Special, isn't it?"
This time he moved, stepping forward so that his body was against hers, lightly. He slid one hand around her waist and used the other to tilt her chin up. And the whole time, with every move he made, he was cursing himself; wondering why he was doing this to himself. To her.
When his lips touched hers, Barney remembered 'why'. His mind cleared and he realized that regardless of the fact that he didn't deserve her, that he'd never be 'it' for her. SHE was his salvation. Salvation in a tiny small red headed package.
Even the devil -- knowing he was damned and undeserving of salvation, somewhere, deep inside -- desired to be saved.