last01standing: ([BtVS] Hush)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title:Saw Your Face Through the Flames
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: This is by no means mine.
Summary:Barney’s not dead, but you can’t really say the same thing about everyone else.
Author's note: So halfway through Faces Through the Veil of Smoke, I stared answering all the theories as to what was happening with really, really cracked out ideas. Then I wrote one of them. This is why you should take away my computer during finals week. (Diverges from through Faces Through the Veil of Smoke about chapter three.)
A/N 2: This is not a sequel. This is something completely different.



Saw Your Face Through the Flames


“Dead?” Barney repeats, a little surprised. “You think I’m dead?”

He hasn’t heard that one before and in his short but eventful career he’s heard a hell of a lot of them. He’s heard stuff like ‘but I’m just sleeping,’ and, ‘I need to wait for Lily’ and of course his personal favorite, ‘I can’t go until I find the one.

Barney Stinson is a lot of thing. He is smart. He is awesome. He looks ridiculously good in a suit and he might just be that dorky little kid from the Sixth Sense all grown up, but the one thing he is definitely not is dead.

Robin Scherbatsky on the other hand...

“The disappearing thing makes it seem kind of likely,” Scherbatsky is saying. She seems distressed and Barney really, really wants to say something to make it better, but he doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t even know if the forces that will govern his bizarrely awesome life will allow him to say it.

He puts up a hand, deflecting like he always used to when Ted was around. “Please, like I don’t have better things to do besides following you around.”

She opens her mouth, closes it. She’s beautiful. Razor sharp and undeniably awesome. She’s exactly the kind of girl he would go and fall for if it wasn’t, you know, necrophilia.

He starts to say something else but suddenly Robin’s eyes go unfocused, like she can’t see his face anymore and...

Oh, fuck. Not this again. He’d thought he was getting somewhere this time.

***


Ted Mosby has always been a little bit oblivious. It was one thing to go hit on strangers at the bar. Barney Stinson is very good at hitting on random strangers in bars, but it’s something completely different to dress up like an old man and do a bit straight out of Back to the Future. But hey if that’s what the poor soul needed to move on, who’s he to deny her? Ted calls him insane but what the hell else is he supposed to do?

Ted Mosby is his best friend.

Ted Mosby was the only person in the whole world who would watch his stupid ridiculous antics and still come back the next day. He was the only person who would laugh and not notice how the ‘bimbos’ he left with never seemed to come over to meet him.

How he never called a single one of them back.

He had Marshall too, but Marshall was different. Marshall was a stay-behind just waiting for his girl to find him again. Marshall was the kid who’d crashed his car his sophomore year of college while crazy high on pot. The kid who Barney used to talk to for hours on end before Ted’s accident.

Ted used to tell Barney stories about Marshall too, used to tell him stories about Marshall the same way Marshall and Ted are telling stories about Barney to Scherbatsky right now.

See, Ted doesn’t look at him anymore. Hasn’t looked at him since that day he took the wrong cab and woke up in the hospital without a scratch on him and instead of thinking, hey, that’s just a little too lucky, he decided to propose to Stella Zinman, an ex-girlfriend three years dead.

Only he hadn’t woken up. Not at all. He’d kept going on his same daily life, continuing his never ending search for ‘the one,‘ meeting his old college roommate as the both of them put Barney Stinson out of their minds.

Denial is a given in his line of work.

Scherbatsky on the other hand, Scherbatsky is bridging the gap.

***


Shannon was the worst he’d ever had. Some people have things they need to confront before they die. People they need to see. It’s always been absolutely terrifying how many girls just need to be told that they’re special before they move on.

But Shannon, no, Shannon just needed to make things right by him.

***


A piano falls on Victoria her first day back from Germany. The first thing Barney does is pump his fist in the air and thank God because of all the girls Ted has dated through the years, proclaiming that they might be the one, Victoria is the only on Barney has ever seen as a real, viable candidate.

Then he feels terrible because this was a girl’s death he was celebrating and though Barney is a lot of things, he’s never thought of himself as that big a dick.

Then he starts laughing because, really? A piano? A piano?

Inanely, he thinks, this is something Scherbatsky would appreciate.

***


He wonders why they do this to themselves. Why is the fear of moving on runs so very, very deep.

Ted has been at the bar almost every night since his death. Same bar, same table like nothing will ever change. Barney worries about him. He tries to talk to him but Ted, being Ted refuses to hear. Him and Marshall concocting their fantasy post-mortem life.

Anything to stay in denial.

Then there’s Scherbatsky, trapping herself in the purgatory that was a shitty job with no promise of redemption.

And it’s stupid. He tries to get them to go be awesome instead of moping around. With Ted and Marshall, he gets them to suit up once. In more than a year.

Scherbatsky on the other hand, he has her high fiving and just generally being awesome after two months. Of course Barney figures she must have a pretty high baseline. Sure she’s one of his more difficult cases, but she’ll be on her way in no time.

***


He imagines telling her the truth some nights. Imagines saying, My job is to help the recently departed get past their earthly issues and move onto the next life.

She’d smirk and say, Are you telling me you see dead people?

It’s like a seventh sense. He’d confirm and when she gave him that look he’d add, the sixth sense is my well developed sense of awesome.

In retrospect that should have been his first sign.

***


Bimbo at the bar with daddy issues number two hundred. This one recently deceased due to a motorcycle accident. Her boyfriend was critical. Miss Bimbo not so much.

“He was an idiot,” Barney says, rubbing a hand over her forearm. “He didn’t know what he was missing.”

“I just—“ Miss Bimbo sobs, “Sometimes I feel like there’s no one out there who will ever love me.”

“Hey, that’s just not true.” This is the kind of thing that got him the reputation with Ted. He knows this looks like sleazy Barney Stinson looking to score. Only score is more of a relative term and not really the metaphor anyone’s looking for. “Come on. I’ve counted at least six guys giving you the eye here tonight and that’s before you get to me.”

“Really?”

“If you weren’t trashed I’d be all over you,” Barney says. And mentally amends that if she wasn’t dead he’d be all over her. She’s got reddish brown hair, long legs, green eyes and at least a C-cup. Seven. Maybe an eight if she wasn’t such a mess. “But instead I think we better just get you home.”

He slings an arm under her shoulder and wonders what the rest of them see. Wonders if there’s some cosmic force working to his benefit that won’t let the others know he’s leaving with a member of the dearly departed. Robin, Ted and Marshall are at the usual booth. None of them seem to see him.

“Thanks,” the girl says. “This is the nicest anyone’s been to me in a long time.” She leans in, kisses his cheek and then she’s gone in a flash of white light.

“Moving on five,” he mumbles to himself.

Then he turns back and walks into the bar.

He doesn’t know why he keeps returning to this little group of stay-behinds. He knows the problem. Marshall’s waiting for Lily. Ted still needs the one and Scherbatsky probably just needs to quit that piece of shit job of hers. He should be headed to sleep, finding a real girl. Something.

But instead he slides into the booth next to Scherbatsky and says, “What I miss?”

Scherbatsky looks like she’s seen a ghost.

Barney kind of hates the irony.

***


She’s everywhere he turns lately. Robin Scherbatsky haunts his day job, has panic attacks about a job she hates in the middle of the men’s room and it’s starting to drive him up the fucking wall.

Because he really likes her. He finds himself telling her things long gone. Things about James and Sam and his mom and how Ted used to be.

He looks up her obituary sitting in his office. It says things like Robin Scherbatsky, better known as the pop sensation Robin Sparkles and shot dead in a home invasion. And it hurts to see her. He tracks down a pair of music videos Sandcastles in the Sand and Let’s Go to the Mall and spends a long evening watching the on a loop and basking in the awesome.

He falls asleep with it on and that morning Scherbatsky is gliding through his apartment taking absolutely no notice of the tenant.

“Come on,” Barney whispers at her non-responsive form. “You’ve got to give me something.”

***


Three days later, he finds she’s not adverse to playing laser tag and thinks she might just be the world’s most perfect woman if she wasn’t a dead woman.

***


A guy dies changing a light bulb. He’s a complete dweeb with a pathological shyness problem, but Barney is so awesome at what he does, he teaches him confidence, the right way to wear a suit and five pick-up lines before he approaches a girl at the bar, taps her on the shoulder and disappears in a flash of white light.

Scherbatsky is watching him watch but she can’t see all the pieces.

***


It’s like he’s part of the group again. Like he has Ted back and dead or not, it’s awesome.

He finds himself spending more and more time with the group. Especially after Lily Aldrin drowns in a bizarre water-ski/sailboat collision and is eaten by a shark in San Francisco only to show up in New York.

Marshall is being pissy about making up with her after she abandoned him for years. That sort of moving on is just a part of life but Barney doesn’t tell him that. Barney just drinks his scotch and pretends he’s part of this because he wants to be here. He really does.

***


It hits him on a Thursday afternoon when Scherbatsky thinks she’s leaving her job and he really is leaving his job. She’s talking about Vancouver Canuks hockey, an aspect of Canada he cares for even less than bass fishing. But she’s got this little half smile on her face and he just thinks, wow, I really kind of love this girl.

And his brain skidders to a screeching halt.

Love. This. Girl.

***


He can’t do his job like this.

He can’t prod Ted and Victoria and Marshall and Lily into moving on because he really doesn’t want them moving on at all. He can’t prod Robin into actually accepting the fact she’s dead because the though of never seeing her again makes him feel like he’s about to vomit.

He can’t do his job like this.

He can’t do what she needs to move on.

She’s starts babbling now, babbling about seeing a ghost and going crazy and Barney feels something inside of him break. What wells up in him is raw and selfish and strangely right. Because after years on end of ghost stories and helping people reach their final destination, he figures he deserves something for himself.

So, just like he’s done with a hundred others, he cups her cheek and kisses her. She’s surprised at first and he expects her to pull back. To slap him and tell him he’s dead she can’t do this without knowing she’s got everything backwards.

He’s doing what he needs this time. What he’s wanted since he turned eighteen and this thing bulldozed his life. This isn’t the way he kisses those bimbos who need someone to tell them they’re special just once more before they move on. That was always soft and chaste, the faux promise of something starting disguised in the end of something. This isn’t that. He’s kissing Robin with the passion and need of years spilling out of him. She tastes likes scotch and vanilla and something indefinable that he wants to say is death.

And for the first time he’s happy. For the first time, this is something he might call love. This is the first time it ten years he’s felt like he’s moving forwards.

And he hopes against hope that kissing Barney Stinson isn’t what Robin needs to move on.

(end)

(no subject)

13/5/09 14:38 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] the-spin.livejournal.com
MacLaren's as purgatory, oh my god, I love you.

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
=) When you think about it, it totally, totally works

(no subject)

13/5/09 21:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] solojones.livejournal.com
Oh man, I didn't even read a comment about this in Smoke but actually I had the "what if they're all dead and he's not?" thought when reading that. So MacLaren's as purgatory... TOTALLY works and is awesome. Oh man, I love it!

>Scherbatsky looks like she’s seen a ghost.

Barney kind of hates the irony.


best line.

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I think it was like halfway through faces when people started making theories that were actually kind of close to the real one, I started flooding the place with bizzare, 'no this is what's really going on.' It turned into great fun for me.

But this was the one that made me stop and go, damn that would have actually really worked. And then someone left me alone with a computer during finals week and procrastination happened.=)

Glad you liked it.

(no subject)

13/5/09 15:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] malevolent-poke.livejournal.com
Wuh... I... buh.

I'm speechless. This is just incredible. I really, really love you and your genius AUs.

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! This was a fun one to write.

(no subject)

13/5/09 15:58 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Okay, still not forgiven you for *that* cliffhanger ending in "Faces...". And you deserve to be iguana-ed to an inch of your life.

But this IS kind of genius and clever and awesome and...

I'll do my best not to hate you.

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:24 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I fail to see how that cliffhanger is worse than this story. I mean everyone but Barney is dead in this story! There was hope at the end of Faces. =)

Thanks for reading. Your comments always kind of crack me up.

(no subject)

13/5/09 17:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
>I fail to see how that cliffhanger is worse than this story. I mean everyone but Barney is dead in this story! There was hope at the end of Faces. =)

DUDE!!! At least I knew there was no hope. So it was sweetly sad.

In Faces, Barney's probably brain damaged and it's horrible!!!!

I am tormented. Look at what you've done? TORMENTED!!!

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:30 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
... I am hesitant in saying this but I have maybe two sentences worth of info about the end of Faces. You have to realize that a sequel is absolutely 100% NOT EVER going to happen but, I could be persuaded to share those two sentences.

(of course given the fact that that's all there is, you might be better off just forgetting it)

(no subject)

14/5/09 07:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
>I could be persuaded to share those two sentences.

Okay. Now you're talking. What's it gonna cost me? ;-)

(no subject)

14/5/09 17:39 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Noticing the laptop woes you mentioned in your lj, I figure I could just go ahead and tell you. Keep in mind that this was actually something cut from the first draft. Also, that there is NOTHING ELSE:

The first thing Barney says when he wakes up is, "Scherbatsky," but the voice is so garbled, so completely and utterly raw from disuse, everyone but Robin dismisses it as meaningless gibberish.


Awesome

14/5/09 18:01 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
YES!!!!

*punches the air*

You see? How hard was that? ;-p

Re: Awesome

14/5/09 22:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
The uncertainty was kind of supposed to be the whole point. Which is why this was cut in draft phase.

Re: Awesome

15/5/09 11:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] idioticonion.livejournal.com
Yeah, I get that.

But shoot me for wanting a payoff!

If I thought you wouldn't kill me, I would totally riff on Faces myself and continue it for a drabble or two...

Re: Awesome

15/5/09 16:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I get your point of view as well. It's just not how I tend to write. Or read, really. I tend to be the rare person who at the end of a story goes. Your story was fantastic but for the love of God DON'T write a sequel. Because odds are, I'll read it and nine times out of ten I wind up very very disappointed.

If I thought you wouldn't kill me, I would totally riff on Faces myself and continue it for a drabble or two...

I wouldn't kill you. I'm very flattered. Have at it if you like. =)



(no subject)

13/5/09 15:58 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] roland44.livejournal.com
Goddamn, that was perfect. I have no words. Absolutely and totally marvelous. And anyone who's read faces through a veil MUST read this. Like, HAS to. I bow before your awesomeness...

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

(I feel like this could possibly be the angstyist crack fic ever written. Or alternately, the crackiest angst fic...)

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magpieinthesky.livejournal.com
Dude! AWESOME! Haha, "and now for something completely different..." :)

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
-)

(That's my cyclops smilie)

GLAD YOU LIKED IT.

(monty python reference ftw!)

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:30 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ceirwy.livejournal.com
Now if that isn't one hell of a twist... What a great spin on your first story. I love it. Kinda reminds me of the "Dead Like Me" story line but more awesome.

(no subject)

13/5/09 16:35 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
This should have totally been the real ending to faces. It would have been SO MUCH MORE FUN to watch the WTFs than it has been to instead watch the folks beg for a sequel.

SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT!

(and hey, DLM. I watched that once. I was thinking more the Sixth Sense but I liked DLM)

(no subject)

13/5/09 21:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] solojones.livejournal.com
It's actually more like 'The Others' is what I was thinking.

(no subject)

13/5/09 17:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] elven-sg1.livejournal.com
This is awesome! It's so sad that Barney is the only one who's alive and there really is no hope for him and Robin. Having said that, I just love the concept, it's really clever!

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much

(no subject)

13/5/09 21:56 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] donteatacowman.livejournal.com
Had to go read the Wikipedia plot but I'm glad I did--this was pretty cool though I admit I like the original better.

One criticism--
The paragraph starting:
Ted Mosby has always been a little bit oblivious.
And ending:
Scherbatsky on the other hand, Scherbatsky is bridging the gap.

was strangely hard to read for me. I thought it was Ted narrating, and I had to read it over a few times to get it and even now I don't think I fully understand.

Thanks for writing!

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I like the original better as well. This one was a giggle though.

I'll take a look at that paragraph when I'm less sleep deprived. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

(no subject)

13/5/09 22:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] because-i-hope.livejournal.com
Ah-mazing. I can totally see where this comes from regarding the story you just finished.

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
=) Glad to hear it.

(no subject)

13/5/09 22:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] alliterations.livejournal.com
you are awesome, you know that? because you are the ONE person in the whole wide world who can write an AU that doesn't make me at least a little uncomfortable. Go you!

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:36 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Hey technically speaking, all fanfic is AU. I'm just a little more upfront about it than most. =)

(no subject)

14/5/09 01:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] summermoonpaint.livejournal.com
THat was great! I didn't know what to expect and, honestly, just wasn't sure about it. But, my god, it was great!

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Happy to hear it. Thanks for reading.

(no subject)

14/5/09 03:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] truthlesss.livejournal.com
Speechless. You are magnificent.

(no subject)

14/5/09 04:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so very much.

(no subject)

14/5/09 07:21 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
Love love love this. faces is one of my favourite chapter fics in this fandom, bit this... the writing, the angst, something about it was just perfect and contained and so well crafted. Thank you

(no subject)

14/5/09 17:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much.

(no subject)

14/5/09 16:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ellerigbee.livejournal.com
This is why someone needs to take my laptop! Your fic is just so much better than any reviewing I have to do!

OMG, I thought Faces was sad, but this is so much more painful. Because Barney is alone and he just doesn't want to be. *weeps*

I declare you the queen of the AU.

Good luck with finals!

(no subject)

14/5/09 17:53 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Queen of the AUs? I'm flattered even though it confirms my suspicion that I am the only person who seems to be writting AUs in this fandom...

Good luck with the exams!

(no subject)

14/5/09 17:39 (UTC)
ext_10182: Anzo-Berrega Desert (Bite me. -Toph)
Posted by [identity profile] rashaka.livejournal.com
Wow. My heart's kinda breaking over here.

(no subject)

14/5/09 17:54 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm sorry. Have a cookie.

(Thanks fo reading)

(no subject)

20/5/09 23:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] robustious.livejournal.com
This reminded me of Dead Like Me. Barney in Dead Like Me would be awesome!

(no subject)

22/5/09 01:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I didn't even realize that as I wrote it. But I see what you mean. Thanks so much for reading.
Posted by [identity profile] da-phoenix13.livejournal.com
This message is to inform you that you have been nominated at [livejournal.com profile] himym_awards.

All nominations MUST be accepted. You can do so by replying to this comment. You only need accept your nomination once, in the event that your story is up for multiple categories. You have until July 3rd to accept your nomination.

As we have a maximum of two categories a story can compete under, your story may not end up competing under every category it has been nominated for. You will be notified of the mods’ final decision once nominations have been finalized.

This story has been nominated in the following categories:
- Best AU

Congratulations!

And if you want to say thanks, why not spread the love and nominate (”http://community.livejournal.com/himym_awards/2395.html”) someone else? :)

(no subject)

29/11/11 18:59 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] isarn.livejournal.com
Awwww, love it!

(no subject)

9/12/11 13:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks! Glad the crack ending was also something you approved of.

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