new scene

the changed verse
Learning to fly

new scene

The first time Barney flies, it’s thanks to Ted.

It all starts with a harmless Friday night. For once, it Ted is the one convincing Barney that they needed a night out, rather than the other way around.

“Come on, dude,” says Ted. “Ever since you grew those things on your back, you’ve been hiding out in your apartment.”

Barney doesn’t feel like explaining to Ted that hiding out in his apartment is really all that he is up for. Growing two huge new body parts hasn’t been a walk in the park and he is still underweight from the experience of it. He’s been lucky his friends were around to help him, or he would’ve died from the Change just like the others. There have been so many deaths – people are still dying. The Change hadn’t just come in a single day, it is still going on. There are those who claim it will go on for months, maybe even years.

“Are there still hot chicks out?” he asks, trying to sound like his old self.

Ted looks a little unhappy. “I have to say, the population of hot girls has been decimated – you wouldn’t believe how many of them turned into mermaids or centaurs. I’m sure there are guys who’re into that kind of stuff, but I’m just not going there.”

Barney cocks his head to the side. While boob-town will no doubt still be fantastic on a mermaid, he isn’t sure what he’d do with the bottom half of her. Talking about the Mermaid Theory just isn’t the same these days. And trying to do anything with a centaur? He winces at the thought.

“But it’s not that bad, there’s still a bunch unaffected by the Change,” Ted says, shrugging. “So, you in?”

Barney thinks about it. He wonders if the wings will be a hindrance or a good thing, and then he decides that if he can get a girl in bed wearing old guy makeup, then he’ll be able to get in bed with a pair of huge, awesome wings, whether or not he thinks them awesome himself.

He smiles a wicked smile, feeling a little like before. “It’s gonna be legend-wait-for-it-dary.”

new scene

It is legend-wait-for-it-dary. As it turns out, chicks aren’t the least bit repulsed by the wings. No, no, they are all over them. They fawn over them, pet them, giggle like mad when he spreads them out and fills up almost the entire bar in MacLaren’s. He doesn’t know what it is about them, but there are girls draped across his lap without him even having to come up with a single lie about who he is.

Ted is sitting next to him, looking a little bored and Barney promptly ignores the little pang of bad conscience. After all, he has three beautiful ladies all but fighting over him. If he’s lucky, he can take them all home.

“Do you fly a lot?” asks one of the girls, batting her long lashes at him.

Barney lies immediately. “All the time. I fly everywhere these days. It’s just that much nicer, you know?”

“Oh, can you take me flying?” asks one girl with long blonde hair and boobs pushed up to her chin.

“Oh, me too! I’ve always wanted to go flying!” the second one says – brown hair, legs up to here – and flaps her arms as though that’s going to do anything.

Suddenly, Ted speaks up. “Yeah, Barney, you should take them flying.”

Maybe Barney shouldn’t have ignored Barney. Ted gets all sulky when he doesn’t get any attention and now he’s going to ruin Barney’s chances of getting laid just because he can. There’s a little glint in Ted’s eyes.

Barney swallows. “Maybe I will. Outside, ladies?”

“No, no, we should go up on the roof,” Ted says. “Start a little higher up, I’m sure these lovely ladies will want that.”

Barney’s eyes widen. He really doesn’t want to go up on the roof to try to fly. He hasn’t ever tried flying with these brand new wings – he doesn’t even know if they work. What if they don’t? Barney will jump off a roof and expect to fly and he’ll be crushed to death on the pavement below.

“We can just go up on the street—” he starts, but the blonde interrupts.

“You guys have a roof?” she says. “I wanna go on the roof!” Barney, heart suddenly pounding, suddenly thinks she sounds like a three-year-old and all of the hotness runs off her. He doesn’t want to die because a three-year-old with great boobs wants to go on a roof!

But Ted smirks. “Follow me.”

He all but drags Barney along. The girls are giggling and tripping all over themselves in an attempt to be close to Barney and his wings, and it would be nice if they were just going up to the apartment to have sex – maybe even a foursome, that would be kind of cool – but they’re not. They’re going up to see Barney fly and Barney doesn’t know how to.

Getting out through the window and up the fire escape turns out to be trickier now that he has the wings – they’re huge and in the way and his balance is off – but after a few attempts, he’s able to climb onto the roof. He wishes he hadn’t succeeded getting out through the window.

Ted stands at the edge. “Come on Barney, don’t be shy!”

Barney wants to shout at him, wants to tell him that this is insane, he’s sorry that he didn’t give Ted so much of the attention he craves but he doesn’t really deserve to die because of it. But the words can’t get over his numb lips. His mouth is dry as the desert and he has no idea how to form words anymore.

“Why don’t you show them how you fly first,” Ted suggests. Barney should’ve figured – of course Ted doesn’t want either of the girls to die. It’s probably all part of Ted’s diabolical plan – when Barney’s dead, Ted can comfort the girls and he’ll be having a threesome while Barney lies with a crushed skull on the ground below.

He feels sick.

“I think you should probably fold out your wings first,” Ted says. “Then maybe flap them a few times?”

Barney gets up on the ledge. He’s not sure how he manages because his feet feel like they’re made of lead, but all of a sudden he’s standing there, looking down at the street far below. He’ll crash just outside MacLaren’s. He’s shaking so badly, his heart hammering away with fear.

And then a word escapes him, an anguished cry. “No!”

The girls stop giggling behind him. Ted stares at him. “No?”

“I can’t,” Barney says, mouth so dry the words barely make it out. “I don’t know how to. I’ll die. Ted, I don’t want to die. Please don’t make me.”

Ted sighs. “Girls, you should probably go.”

“But we—”

Ted glares at them and they give him a look that speaks volumes – Ted certainly won’t be having a threesome with those two in this lifetime. They climb down the ladder and out of sight.
“Thank you,” Barney says quietly and he’s never meant the words more.

“Dude, you’ve got wings,” Ted says, sounding hard. “What’s the problem? They’re made for flying.”

Barney shuts up, hurt by Ted’s words for some reason. He should be able to fly, but he can’t seem to make himself try. What happens if he gets up into the air and then the wings stop working for some reason? What if they can’t hold him and he falls to his death?

“I—” He’s never been good at admitting his fears.

They stand in silence, Barney still on the ledge and Ted a few feet away on the roof. Then suddenly, there’s a hard glint in Ted’s eyes. “Think fast.”

And he runs towards the edge of the roof, takes a big climb onto the ledge, and throws himself out in the open air. Barney’s world slows down. He sees Ted hanging in mid-air and slowly starting to fall towards the street below. There are no people below, the street empty in the middle of the night.

Barney turns and hurls himself after Ted. He doesn’t let Ted go with his eyes for a second. He isn’t far behind Ted, his instinct of going after Ted kicking in before there was a conscious thought. He doesn’t know how he does it, all he knows is that he needs to get a hold of Ted before they both crash into the ground below, and he presses himself to reach out and grab Ted. As soon as he’s got a hand wrapped around Ted’s arm, he unfolds his wings and hopes that there is still enough time so that they don’t get crushed.

Ted’s feet brush the concrete as Barney pulls them both upwards and then they’re off again, flying above the ground. All Barney can think is to get them both back on the roof. He’ll reflect later that landing on the street would have worked just fine, but in that moment, all he wants is to get back to the roof.

They land, both panting, Ted stumbling to his knees and landing on his side. One hand is cradling his shoulder, on the side where Barney grabbed his arm.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Barney screams, all of his fear and shock pouring out of him. “Do you want to die?!”

“You flew,” Ted breathes, sounding in pain and in awe at once.

“You threw yourself off the roof!” Barney continues, and there are tears in his eyes. He brushes at them angrily. “Are you insane?”

“I had to get you to realize that you can fly,” Ted says. He gets up off the ground gingerly, careful not to use the shoulder that has quite possibly been dislocated. “And you can.”

“I—” Barney stops. He can feel himself crumbling. “There is no ability in the world that is so important that you need to throw yourself off a roof for it.” His voice cracks at the end. “What if I hadn’t…”

“I knew you would,” Ted says. There is such certainty in his voice. “And you did.”

Barney wants to say more, wants to rave and rant at Ted for doing what he just did, for being so stupid, for risking his life, but then Ted suddenly hugs him, warm and near and still alive and all the words just disappear. He tries not to hulk as he cries, tries to hold back, but it’s completely impossible. The past months, going through the Change and seeing people die all over the world – he’s tried to stay aloof, tried to push it away, but now with Ted risking his life to make him realize that his wings work, it’s like pulling the stopper out of a bottle. Everything comes pouring out.

After a while, a sense of calm starts spreading within. He finally pulls back and stands there looking at Ted, who’s disheveled with bruises on his knees and feet and a shoulder that, yes, it’s dislocated.

“You’re insane,” he says. “You should probably go to the hospital now.”

Ted gives him a pained smile. “Probably.”

new scene

They don’t tell the others how Barney learned to fly. Not exactly what happened anyway – Barney sometimes mutters about the idiot who needed to be rescued and forced Barney to fly, but they never specify it. The others don’t ask, although they have a bunch of questions about how Ted managed to dislocate his shoulder, bruise his knees and hurt his feet during a night at MacLaren’s. Ted just shrugs his good shoulder and looks a little at Barney. It’s their secret. Or at least, that’s what Barney thinks.

Lily takes Ted aside. “Thanks. I was necessary. I don’t know how long it will be before—I don’t even know if it’s something that will really happen, or what, but if it is, he really needed to know how to fly. For Robin’s sake.”

Ted nods. He doesn’t say it, but he thinks: anything for Robin.

Read? Review!

Readers of Learning to Fly:

© 2002-2013 | Design & production by Cosmic Creativ Consulting