last01standing: ([BtVS] Hush)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Faces Through the Veil of Smoke
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: This is by no means mine. 

Summary: It’s a ghost story. Except for all the ways it’s not.
Author's note: Very, very AU. But you can still expect spoilers through Shelter Island. [Barney/Robin, Marshall/Lily]

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


Faces Through the Veil of Smoke
CHAPTER 5


“Wow,” Lily says when Robin finishes. She’d been quiet through the story and Robin is thankful because she doesn’t think she would have been able to finish if she’d been interrupted. “Wow, Robin. That’s... intense.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Robin says, putting her head down on the table.

“So, uh, you know this sounds totally insane, right?”

“Yeah, I should seek help,” Robin replies. “That’s what you’d do, right? Maybe I should go back home, get everything together.”

“To Canada?” Lily’s eyes go wide. “You can’t go back there. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”

“Then what do I do? I feel like there’s got to be some reason for this. Some reason why it’s me instead of someone else.”

“You want my advice?” Lily asks, excitedly. She draws herself up in the booth and uses both hands to bring her espresso up to her lips. “Find out who he is. Where he worked, how he died. Maybe he was murdered! You can solve it and then he’ll finally be at peace.”

“Yeah,” Robin hedges. “That’s how it works in the movies, right? The ghost figures out the reason they’re still here and then he’ll be, gone.”

“That or it decides it wants to kill you,” Lily says and when Robin stares at her, she hastily amends, “Kidding. Totally kidding!”

But that isn’t the reason why Robin’s suddenly feeling like she’d taken a punch. It’s not the reason a white wave of panic had swept over her. No, the reason was that somewhere along the way, she’d gone from wanting the ghost gone for good to--

--to something else entirely. Something she’s not sure she wants to name.

***


She can’t find the obituary.

She spends all day looking for it. Going through the wires, through the internet but it’s not there. Erased into the abyss.

He was hit by a bus, Ted says in her head, eyes dull.

Barney Stinson on the other hand. There’s a lot about Barney Stinson. There’s a blog with what seems like hundreds of entries about some of the most ridiculous things she’s ever seen. There’s party school bingo and theories about everything from the JFK assassination to the four classes of bimbo. Robin’s torn between repulsion and amusement.

Another hour of searching yields barneysvideoresume.com. She watches it twice in a row without pause. The first time in shock, the second time roaring with laughter.

He looks so very alive.

***


She hates Metro News one. Hates it with the kind of passion previously reserved for her father and select members of opposing hockey teams. It’s the puns mainly. The shocking tooth about the dentist. The scoop about the ice cream man’s rolling meth lab.

She’s going to kill her boss. Going to kill the writers. Going to kill someone.

When she gets off work, it’s too late to hit the shooting range and if she doesn’t find a release for this, she’s going to go insane (more insane). She finds herself standing in the make-up room long after the production staff has left, clutching her reel in one hand and her resume in the other.

“We should TP the place,” a voice says from behind her.

Robin chokes out a sound, half laugh, half sob.

“That’s right Scherbatsky. You me and a twenty-four pack of Charmin ultra soft. It’s going to be legen—wait for it—dary.”

“I can’t TP my job,” Robin says, turning around.

Barney’s leaning casually against the wall with a mischievous smirk on his face. It occurs vaguely to Robin that she’s never seen him outside the bar. He looks different somehow, like there’s more color in his cheeks, like his eyes got bluer. He looks less like a shadow and more like a person.

Robin has been moving in the opposite direction.

“Why not?” Barney protests. “It’s not like they’d pin it on you. They’d just figure someone forgot to lock up and some teenage hoodlums came in and trashed the place.”

Robin laughs, but that’s just a cover for the tears threatening to well up.

“You’re really upset about this aren’t you?” Barney moves toward her until she’s he’s up in her personal space. She should be able to feel his breath in the air but the air is stale. “Look if you hate your job, quit.”

Robin wipes a tear angrily out of her eyes. “You say that like it’s easy.”

“You mean it’s not?” Barney says. “I don’t follow.”

Robin holds up her reel and her resume. “I’m a joke,” she says. “I work at Metro News One. It’s more scare tactics than news. I’m like the boogeyman with a teleprompter.”

Barney smiles faintly at her joke and then hesitates for a moment like he’s not sure what he should do next. It’s an oddly human gesture, unfamiliar from a being whose very presence, whose very personality seems too fantastic to be real. Finally, he steps in closer to her and throws a comforting arm over her shoulder. Robin shivers. “You’re more then that,” he says. “You’re Robin Scherbatsky, the only person on this whole planet awesome enough to see me. Don’t give me this ‘I’m not good enough for it crap.’”

Robin closes her eyes and imagines she can feel the weight of his arm on her shoulder. Imagines she can feel the warmth of his skin radiating through his suit. Imagines she can feel his breath in her hair, feel his hand comfortingly stroke her arm. But she’s so very cold.

When she opens her eyes, he’s gone.

***


She’s too exhausted to hit the bar that night. She goes home early, opening the door to an empty apartment. She misses her dogs. She’d sent the to her aunt’s farm last year after the third time her super had read her the litany of complaints and cited six different building code violations. The apartment seems empty without them.

Something’s different about tonight though, some subtle wrongness in the apartment and she starts unconsciously moving towards her gun when she figures out what it is.

It’s a picture sitting on her mantle in the place that usually houses a picture of the twelve-year-old Robin with her little sister but it’s not. Not anymore. She grabs it with shaking hands to get a closer look. There are six people sitting around a booth in a bar easily recognizable as MacLaren’s. In the photo, Ted’s arm is looped around Victoria’s waist. Lily has her head resting on Marshall’s shoulder.

And then, in the bottom left corner, there is Robin Scherbatsky, arm in arm with Barney Stinson. She feels her body seize up and she might have stood there forever if the photo hadn’t slipped through numb fingers, the glass shattering on impact with the ground.

“Fuck!” she curses, crouching down to pick through the shards of glass before she has the misfortune of stepping on one of them and by the time she gets to the picture again, twelve-year-old Robin is smiling out at her behind cracked glass.

“What the hell,” Robin hisses and leans back against the wall, shards of glass biting at her bare palm. “What the hell?”

***


“Marshall,” Victoria says a few nights later as the four of them sit in the normal booth at MacLaren’s. “Before you get mad at me, I wanted to say that I didn’t know the precise circumstances and she was my friend too. I mean she’s practically the reason me and Ted are back together.”

Marshall’s brow pinches. “What exactly are you talking about?”

Ted says, “Victoria invited Lily and her new boyfriend to MacLaren’s to hang out.”

“And she said yes?” Robin blurts.

At the same time, Marshall sputters, “Boyfriend?

“I’m so sorry,” Victoria says. “I didn’t know the circumstances.” She pushes over a tiny box that Robin already recognizes as the take out box from Victoria’s bakery. “Here, I brought you a cupcake. I hope it helps.”

Marshall grudgingly took the cupcake out of the box and took a bite, his eyes rolling back in pleasure.

“How you doing buddy,” Ted asks.

“Confused?” Marshall says. “Angry, a little jealous.” He swallows. “The cupcake helps.” He starts to stand up. “I should probably just go before she gets here and everything just gets really, really awkward.” He raises his hand and waves goodbye. “Have a good night everybody.”

“Oh,” Robin says, sinking back against the booth. “I think it’s too late for you to get out unseen.”

“What?” Marshall turns quickly to the door and he sits down with a thud, hiding his face. “Shit, she’s here, she’s here! What do I do? What do I do?” He turns away from the door and toward the table. “Mosby! Scherbatsky! This is not a rhetorical question! She’s going to win the breakup!”

“Calm down,” Victoria says. “Take a deep breath. This isn’t helping.”

“Back down devil women,” Marshall snaps. “I wouldn’t be in this mess if you had just kept your double date desire to yourselves.”

“Whoa,” Ted says, wrapping a protective arm over his girlfriend’s shoulder. “That was out of line. Apologize!”

“Hey, guys,” Lily says, standing over the table and giving a dry, nervous laugh.

“Lily,” Ted says tightly.

“Oh!” Lily says, “Before I forget.” She gestures vaguely backward to the man hovering by her shoulder. “Guys, this is Bennett.”

Physically, Bennett is the anti-Marshall. He’s short and rail thin with almost delicate features and a pair of black wire frame glasses. He’s wearing a blue button down shirt and a pair of black slacks. He’s exactly the type of guy Robin would have pictured Lily dating if she hadn’t known about Marshall.

“Ben,” Lily says as both Ted and Victoria stand to shake his hand. “This is Victoria, Ted.” Robin would have never heard the hesitation if she hadn’t been listening for it. “ Marshall.”

Robin feels kind of bad for the guy. He looks fragile and if Robin knows her friend, Marshall is out to break fingers. To Bennett’s credit, he doesn’t flinch.

“And,” Lily falters when she gets to Robin, unfamiliar with how familiar would be too familiar.

Marshall beats her to it, taking Robin by surprised as he tugs her close to him. “This is Robin,” Marshall says, looking straight at Lily. “My girlfriend.”

***


More soon. Got to get those lab reports done first.

6 |

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] alliterations.livejournal.com
You kill me in the best way every time. THIS IS SO FANTASTIC. Can't wait for more!

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Hot damn you're quick on the drawn! Glad you're enjoying it!

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sbmshaneomaniac.livejournal.com
BLARGLE! Every time it just gets more interesting!

Really, how are you going to wrap this up in three parts. It could last awhile it seems.

Awesome, as per use.

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I am a fan of the contained fic myself. I've got it all plotted out and three more parts is how it will be going. You may not see it yet, but the end is in sight.

Thanks for reading.

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] the-spin.livejournal.com
This is so fun; it's like reading Doctor Who fic, but in HIMYM! I'm looking forward to the explanations.

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
And here I thought I was hitting the Supernatural vibe pretty hard. Go figure. =)

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:59 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] the-spin.livejournal.com
Haha, makes sense. I'm less of a paranormal-fan, so stuff like this automatically pings me as parallel-universe bleed or something.

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] otempora42.livejournal.com
Um, hey. I've been following this fic from about chapter three, and I think it's really fabulous. The premise is really intriguing (and I've been wanting a really good supernatural HIMYM fic for ages), and I love how you've dealt with the AU. Plus, your chapter cliffhangers are amazing. I really cannot wait until the next installment. :D

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:22 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Well, there was already zombie fic, I had to add ghosts to the mix. Someone else writes the vampire/werewolf remix and we're good to go. =)

Glad you're enjoying this!

(no subject)

2/5/09 21:55 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] donteatacowman.livejournal.com
Hehehe. Nice job. I especially love the cold from Barney's touch. Very awesome indeed. Thanks for writing! :D

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:22 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
And thank you for reading!

(no subject)

2/5/09 23:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
aww no! Lily can't have a new boyfriend! Lily and Marshall:Rocking it since '96!

I still can't wait to see what happens with Barney! You've done an amazing job with keeping the mystery and tension up for this story...

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm glad you're still around despite all the L/M hardships. Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

2/5/09 23:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magpieinthesky.livejournal.com
Eeee!!!! I'm so excited to see more!!!! I like these tiny hints you're giving us... the nonexistent obituary?? Is Barney alive somehow? What up with that? I can't wait for more!

(no subject)

2/5/09 23:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Okay, this is exactly my theory. Barney is NOT DEAD. He's in a coma or something and you've been playing us all along. Robin has to wake him up and be awesome with him and then they have to KISS!

And yes, I am that pathetic and soppy. ;-)

Note icon though. Just in case.

(no subject)

3/5/09 00:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] solojones.livejournal.com
You know, I thought he mentioned in an earlier chapter that he wasn't dead. Which is really confusing me and intriguing me. But the fact that she can't find his obit makes me even more suspicious.. hmm...

>No, the reason was that somewhere along the way, she’d gone from wanting the ghost gone for good to--

That got me :( Because when Lily was like "oh and then you make the ghost go away for good" I was just like, "nooooo!"

Also, poor Marshall. But that move at the end... err, whoops. Awkward.

(no subject)

3/5/09 01:24 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magpieinthesky.livejournal.com
Yeah, I think it was more that Barney was surprised to know that Robin thought he was dead (he didn't outright deny it of course... otherwise, where's the suspense?), but that was my first indication that something was weird going on :)

>Also, poor Marshall. But that move at the end... err, whoops. Awkward.

I know, right? I'm girding myself for the long haul of supreme awkwardness :P

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
See, what really happened was GNB used their secret underground laboratory (The Evil League of Evil) and managed to resurrect him. Doctor Horrible now uses him as a unwilling stand-in and alabi for when he goes about his dastardly deeds. In his captivity, he has discovered a device to allow him to communcate to a specific person across long distances. Unfortuantely he has been unable to program it for anyone but Robin.

Marshall's move, though awkward is making for a fun writing time on the next chapter. =)

Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

3/5/09 06:20 (UTC)
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Origin of Love)
Posted by [identity profile] rashaka.livejournal.com
Does that mean he's got a device whose one and only purpose in this great wide existence is to locate Robin Scherbatsky?

(no subject)

3/5/09 16:48 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Actually Billy had originally designed it for transdimensional communication with Penny but there's this glitch in it that has latched onto the awesome quotient of Robin Scherbatsky instead. I could tell you more but I don't want to bore you with the technobabble. =)

My thoughts exactly!

3/5/09 01:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magpieinthesky.livejournal.com
>He's in a coma or something and you've been playing us all along. Robin has to wake him up and be awesome with him and then they have to KISS!

Haha, like Briar Rose!!!!! :DDDDDD


... I crack myself up.

Re: My thoughts exactly!

3/5/09 01:29 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Wow - that's pretty clever. And EXACTLY!

Re: My thoughts exactly!

3/5/09 09:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Dude! Totally friended you. :-D

Re: My thoughts exactly!

3/5/09 04:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
DUDE I JUST WATCHED THAT DOLLHOUSE EP. YAY!

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
First off, thank you for not threatening to kill me this time.

Second, clearly it's not Barney who's dead but EVERYBODY ELSE. And the twist on this thing is that there was a massive charter bus crash and it's Barney who's been seeing everyone else's ghost this whole time. He has to get them to a place where they're happy for them to be able to move on.

(actually, that doesn't sound that ridiculous in context...)

(no subject)

3/5/09 10:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Now THAT'S a story I would pay to read! Hehe.

(no subject)

3/5/09 16:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Looking at it again, it looks like something I might actually write. (Fail)

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Barney had actually been cryogenically frozen and launched into space. His body is currently trapped in orbit around Mars and next chapter Robin is going to highjack a spaceship to rescue him.

Clearly all my fic degenerates into crack. =)

(no subject)

3/5/09 01:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ellerigbee.livejournal.com
Before I tell you how delightful this chapter was (because it totally was what with the telling Lily and Barney showing up at Metro News One and Robin searching for the obit and just the general wonderfully written pain of seeing Lily with someone else) I need to throw down my chip on the Barney's in a coma table. Because he can't be dead right? Right? *is worried*

Really though, the scene at Metro News One was very touching but there really aren't any words for how attached Robin (and myself as the reader) has become attached to Barney, I just want this awesome guy to stick around forever. Also, that picture changing on her mantle: creepy. What the hell indeed. Someone should give Robin the Winchesters' number.

Awesome chapter, can't believe there are only three more!

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Please, Barney's not really Barney and never has been. He's actually a cyborg sent back in time to protect Robin Scherbatsky from the sky-net fiasco. See, it's her unborn child that is going to be the leader of the resistance and without him, the whole world is lost.

I'm very proud of the Metro News One scene. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it.

Which brings us to the most important part of your comment: ANOTHER SUPERNATURAL FAN!!! WHEE!!!

(Plus, holy crap you're a member of [livejournal.com profile] da_halloween! My alter ego, [livejournal.com profile] spastic_visions runs that com. WE APPEAR TO ACTUALLY BE THE SAME PERSON.)

(no subject)

3/5/09 05:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ellerigbee.livejournal.com
Please, Barney's not really Barney and never has been. He's actually a cyborg sent back in time to protect Robin Scherbatsky from the sky-net fiasco. See, it's her unborn child that is going to be the leader of the resistance and without him, the whole world is lost. *clears throat* That was going to be my second guess.

I was so excited when I saw your Dean icon! What can you do but love them boys, right?

AND you're spastic_visions? How do you find the time to be awesome in so many fandoms (I actually have you listed as a favorite author on FF.net and didn't even realize you were the fantastic creator of the "Sammy finds Alec" verse until then. Clearly I'm made of fail. Wow, that's a lot of fangirling on my part...um, I'm just going to go, over, uh, there now.)

(no subject)

3/5/09 17:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Yep. I keep thinking I really ought to standardize all my screennames but I never seem to get around to it. I'm Spastic_visions/insane troll logic/trolllogicfics. Nowadays most everything is filtered through spastic_visions and directed here.

I'm not actually IN all those fandoms at once. Then I really would be crazy. No, I work on ONE STORY and when I finish it I move on. I don't know how those people with one zillion WIPs can live with themselves. Plus I'm a bit skitzo when it comes to interests. I just looedk back on like the last ten fic I wrote and saw they were in nine different fandoms and that's a little much even for me. =/

(AND DUDE YOU'RE ELEANORRIGBEE ON FF.NET AREN'T YOU. I'VE GOT BOTH YOUR HIMYM FICS ON MY FAVS LIST. It is a small, small virtual world)

(deleted comment)

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm not sure I can write much faster, but we are closing in on the end if that makes you feel any better. =)
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

3/5/09 16:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Hey, if we weren't hitting the end shortly, it would leave you all with a whopping TWO MONTH layover between chapters when I head out for study abroad this summer. So really, I'm only thinking of you. =)
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

3/5/09 18:35 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm going to be in Spain (Madrid and Alicante). ¡Será fantástico! Estoy muy emocionada.
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com - 3/5/09 19:01 (UTC) - Expand
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com - 4/5/09 00:11 (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:24 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] roland44.livejournal.com
Brilliant brilliant brilliant!!! They should totally TP Metro News 1!!! And wow, I can't wait to see the Robin-Marshall thing play out - I love their friendship on the show and this should be interesting!!!

(no subject)

3/5/09 04:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm in the process of writing the Robin-Marshall part now. I'm having a blast. =)

Glad you're still liking it!

(no subject)

3/5/09 06:16 (UTC)
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Rashaka is my name)
Posted by [identity profile] rashaka.livejournal.com
Love the almost-reference to the photo of all of them in the booth! And this is getting good...I look forward to a lot of amusement with Marshall/Lily/Robin/Bennet next chapter! And of course, more spectral spooky hotness.

(no subject)

3/5/09 16:58 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Glad to hear it!

I know what's going on here!

3/5/09 06:23 (UTC)
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Origin of Love)
Posted by [identity profile] rashaka.livejournal.com
Clearly, Spectral!Barney is a psychic projection from where he's being held in a cave in Afghanistan with his other other bro, Tony. It's why he's so good at giving pep talks!
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
My god GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

(no subject)

3/5/09 19:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] because-i-hope.livejournal.com
I love how quirky your writing is in this story. I mean, ghost!Barney is just as awesome as living!Barney and the ending fits so well and I'm excited to see where it leads! :D

(no subject)

4/5/09 00:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Hey, quirky writing is the grand tradition of HIMYM. Glad I'm living up to the source.

(no subject)

7/5/09 02:39 (UTC)
ext_47: a wolf looking at reflection in a lake (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] silverblade219.livejournal.com
the link at the bottom of this goes back to this chapter...

(no subject)

15/5/09 20:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] nevcolleil.livejournal.com
This fic is just spectacular :D An instant HIMYM classic. I can't wait for more!

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