Hey guys! This is a one shot ficlet episode tag to 7x10 Tick, Tick, Tick. Set during the scene in the bar. I changed the text a bit to fit into the story but not to much! Just do a little R & R, thanks a bunch!

I've found a reason for me, to change who I used to be, a reason to start over new, and the reason is you.

(The Reason, Hoobastank)

X

"It's nothing." Is what he says.

"I love you." Is what he means.

"I'm lying" is what she hears.

And she doesn't call his bluff. She owes that to him, after all the hell she has put him through tonight, she needs to let him have one last lie. Her guilty conscience is screaming at her for playing with him like that, leading him on only to crush him in the end. Toying with his feelings, pushing down her own, just as he'd forced her to do when he was getting serious with Nora. Only now the tables have turned, and now it's she who's holding the knife that pierces through his heart

Push it in and twist the knife again, she thinks bitterly. She brought the man who'd she left Barney for to the bar with her tonight, a cruel and heartless reminder. His blood is on her hands now, and no amount of soap and water will ever rid them of it. He's dying inside, but holding himself together at the seams for her sake on the outside. But his mask of happiness is shattering bit by bit and it's only she who can see it break. He's hurt. More deeply hurt than he'd care to admit.

And it's completely and utterly her fault.

It's killing her, the guilt, and it's a slow and painful death that she deserves. She wishes that she could go back in time, and show herself this night before she went to see Kevin in the hospital. Before she'd made one of the biggest mistakes of her life. She would give anything to take it all back. To change what she said.

But time can't be rewritten.

So she sits and watches, as he tries to smile away the pain. Reassuring her that her unspoken message of rejection is perfectly alright. It doesn't affect him. It's meaningless.

She's made her choice. It's Kevin. He'd come to accept that. Get over it.

Eventually.

"I should go." Is what he says.

"I have to get out of here." Is what he means.

"I can't be around you any longer." Is what she hears.

"It's been a rough night." He says, avoiding her gaze. He gives the group a plastic smile, a little more forced when his eyes fall upon the happy couple. He drops his gaze quickly.

"Take care of her, Kevin." He says, so softly she nearly misses it.

Something flashes across Kevin's eyes and he asks, "You sure you're alright, Barney?" The therapist within him kicking in. He knows something's up with the man in front of him. It's not hard to see.

Barney offers another pointless smile. "Absolutely fine. Just need some sleep. Tough night." He says, putting his hands deep into his pockets. He doesn't make a move for the door, though.

Lily interjects, "But Barney, you never leave before midnight!" She observes, looking up at the blonde man. "Do you already have a girl back at your apartment? Hours after you've broken up with Nora? Barney, that's low. Even for you." She says, turning into the annoyed mother. She crosses her arms across her chest in irritation.

Something in his fa├žade cracks a bit, but no one catches it except for her. She's been invited to her own private screening of the destruction of Barney Stinson, and she can't leave until it's over.

"Nah, Lil. It's just me and my bed tonight. And perhaps the final season of Lost." He says, trying to cover up his torture with a little humor. "Promise." He says, giving her a small smile.

She knows he's being genuine, but there's another agenda behind him departing early in the evening. "Alright. I believe you. Be careful, alright Barney?" She says, secretly hurting for the man clearly upset about something. But the question that remains is what.

He kisses her on the top of her head, something so un-Barney like that it shocks the table into silence. "Quit worrying about me so much, Lil. I'm fine! I've got a date with the bed tonight. We're going to sleep together." He says, one final diversion to solidify his masquerade enough to get him past the doors of the bar. Just wait to get outside to fall apart, don't let them see.

The group snaps back to reality and chuckles a bit at his stupid joke. He's fooled them. For the moment.

"Don't get too crazy tonight, kids." He says, directing his comment towards Robin and Kevin.

"Yes sir, Mr. Stinson, sir." Says Marshall, sensing the tension.

Another laugh.

"Goodnight." Is what he says.

"Tell me to stay with you." Is what he means.

"I don't want to go home without you." Is what she hears.

She's fighting back the tears.

"Goodnight, Barney." Is what she says.

"I can't do this." Is what she means.

"I'm sorry." Is what he hears.

X

So that's that. That episode, and more importantly Robin, irked me so much. So I had to do something about it!

Drop me a review :)