new scene

the changed verse

new scene


It started with an itch.

He didn’t really realize until Ted slapped his hand away.

“Stop scratching at your back, dude,” Ted told him, sounding irritated. “You look like you have flies or something.”

Barney gave a half-glare. “Flies of awesome, maybe.”

But it didn’t stop, even though he sat on his hands most of the night and whenever he wasn’t sitting on his hands, he was drinking. That night, he fell into bed, drunk and alone – and his shoulders were still itching.

His body screamed for food when he woke up and he was vaguely aware of ordering food. Pizza, hamburgers, Chinese – anything that could be delivered to the door. Each time the doorbell rang, Barney stumbled to the door, handed the delivery guy some cash and grabbed the cartoons of food. He didn’t even cross the living room to stand in the kitchen to eat; he simply sank down to the floor and inhaled the food.

Bumps started forming just above his shoulder blades. Some part of Barney knew that should be a cause for worry, but his brain seemed muddled far beyond the normal hangover headaches. He couldn’t think straight. He managed to call his secretary at some point to get her to switch all of his appointments until later and tell her that he wouldn’t be in for that day, but that was all. When his phone kept ringing and beeping with messages from his friends, he finally turned it off and crept into bed, falling into a deep sleep.

He woke up to someone repeating his name over and over.

“Barney! Barney, come on. Barney.”

There were light taps on his cheeks and he opened a bleary eye to look up. Lily’s face swam into view.

“Oh thank god,” she said. “He’s not dead. He’s awake. Not dead.”

Barney heard shuffling and the others’ faces appeared. Ted, Marshall and Robin all crowded around Lily.

“Dead? Why’d I be dead? Guys? Wha’ ‘re you doin’ ‘ere?” Barney mumbled. His brain felt like it had been filled with cotton.

“You wouldn’t believe us if we told you,” Robin muttered.

“Maybe he would,” Lily said. “After all, he’s the one growing wings.”

Barney frowned. He was pretty sure that what Lily had just said made absolutely no sense. Perhaps he was still dreaming. It was entirely possible – he’d had semi-realistic dreams before.

“Wings,” Barney said, chuckling slightly. “My brain comes up with the weirdest stuff.”

They all frowned above him, but Ted was the one who spoke. “It’s not a dream, dude. You’re growing wings.”

Barney rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. And what’s next, the Easter Bunny’s real? And Santa really does deliver the Christmas presents?”

He sat up – or tried to, anyway. The weight of his body was oddly off, as though his center of gravity had shifted.

Lily’s hands came around him. “Marshall, help me, please?”

“I don’t need help,” Barney muttered. Marshall ignored him, his strong arms joining Lily’s to help him sit up.

“If you promise not to faint or anything girly like that, we’ll let you look in the mirror,” Lily said.

“Why would I—”

Barney broke off mid-sentence, staring. He could see his own reflection in the mirror across the room. In the big, floor-to-ceiling mirror he’d put in pretty much as soon as he moved into the apartment, he could see himself.

With extras.

A skeletal structure spread from his back, all white bone and a few downy feathers.

“What— oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What?” said Lily, obviously thrown by the tone of his voice.

“Really, this is the best you could do?” Barney asked. “Drug me up and glue some stupid Halloween dragon wings or something to my back? And then pretend to be all shocked and worried? That’s so lame.”

“Barney, those are your wings,” Marshall said.

“Yeah, and that thing I said with the Easter Bunny—”

“Oh for—” Robin came up and took hold of a wing. Barney was sure she had gotten tired of the joke and come to end it – until she pulled on the wing in her hand and he could feel it all the way down his spine. The wing she was pulling was a part of him and it felt the same way it would have felt if she had pulled his arm or his leg.

“They’re yours,” she said. “Your wings.”


It wasn’t a dream – the light outside was too piercing, their faces too sharp. And he could feel the weight of those things on his back. Those things that were stuck to him, that felt like they were a part of him – except they weren’t supposed to be.

Lily was rubbing his back – between the skeletal wings – mumbling soothing words Barney couldn’t really make out. Marshall kept him upright; without him, Barney would have fallen down and he wasn’t sure he’d ever have gotten up again.



He’d gone to bed Barney and he woke up… what? An angel?

“What are you guys doing here?” he asked instead, again, weakly.

He saw the glances exchanged between the four. Robin rolled her eyes again, as though she thought all of this was stupid. Barney could only agree.

“Lily had a vision,” Marshall said at last, and even though he was the one who believed in supernatural stuff, he still stumbled over the words.

Barney frowned. “A vision?”

“I’ve been getting them for a while,” Lily said. “I just didn’t realize what they were. But then I started seeing—well, I saw Ted and this girl I’d never met going out and then I went down to the bar and Ted was sitting there, thinking about whether to ask her out or not—”

“Not sure that’s a vision, so much as a safe bet,” Barney muttered.

Lily sent him a quick glare before continuing. “I saw myself reading the news about a shooting and then I got up and read the paper the next day and there was the shooting.”

“And she saw me spilling coffee all over my new dress.” Robin didn’t sound happy about it. “She didn’t have the courtesy to warn me, though.”

“And now you saw me?” Barney asked.

“I saw you in bed, with the wings, looking all—deathly pale,” Lily said softly. “When was the last time you ate?”´

“I—I ate just before I went to bed.”

“And when was that?” Ted asked. “Those cartons of Chinese out there don’t exactly smell fresh.”

Barney frowned. “What day is it? When did you guys last see me?”

“On Thursday,” Marshall said.

“Well that’s not so—” Barney started.

“Thursday last week,” Marshall asked. “It’s Saturday. We haven’t seen you in nine days.”

Barney shut up at that. He could remember ordering food and eating everything he could possibly stuff into his mouth – and then he had some vague memory of falling into bed. Had he really slept for eight days?

His stomach growled. Glancing over at himself in the mirror again – pointedly ignoring the bones protruding from his back – he was horrified by his own reflection. He was as pale as the white bed sheets and his face looked gaunt. He’d only been sleeping but it looked like he’d lost at least twenty pounds in that time.

“You need to eat,” Lily said. “Ted, can you make some soup? I don’t think he should be eating heavier stuff just yet.”

“Shouldn’t we get him to a hospital?” Marshall asked.

“Marshmallow, you’ve seen what the hospitals look like,” Lily said gently. “We’ll help him better than they can right now.”

Barney looked up at them. “What’s wrong with the hospital?”

Lily’s face was grim. “Let’s just say that you and I aren’t the only ones changing.”

Barney stared at his reflection some more. “Are others growing wings?”

“No—well, I guess some are,” Lily said. “It’s just—people are changing. A lot.”

“You said that already,” Barney said. “Changing how?”

“There are centaurs walking the streets,” Robin said, making a face as though she couldn’t believe she was saying this stuff. “There are people who can move stuff with their minds. I saw someone turning water into ice. There are telepaths. People’ve turned into mermaids, elves—heck, anything you can come up with from some kiddie storybook.”

If it hadn’t been for the bones currently sticking out of his shoulders, Barney would’ve picked that moment for some dude to jump out and yell that he was on candid camera. As it was, he could only give Robin a slack-jawed expression.

“Yeah,” Robin said. “That was my reaction.”

“So—you guys,” Barney said. “What are you guys?”

“Nothing, yet, except Lily,” Marshall said. 

“But you’ll get something?”

He happened to glance at Lily at that moment and saw the look that crossed her face, just briefly. She knew something – and with the pre-cognitive powers she had apparently developed, that wasn’t much of a surprise – but she wasn’t telling them. It didn’t matter; Lily was notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Barney would find out.

“We don’t know yet,” Marshall said. “No one knows. It’s all new to everyone. The government is just trying to keep up and secure national secrets and stuff from all these new powers, and the hospitals are filled with people who’ve gotten sick from the change.”

“Apparently, growing all new body parts and developing brand new senses is bad for you.” Robin’s voice was dry and borderline irritated.

“Soup!” announced Ted, returning to the room with a steaming bowl. “Eat up, as mommy ordered.”

“Are you drunk?” Barney asked, eyebrow raised.

Ted shrugged. “I figured the world – and you guys – needed some goofiness. Everything’s so dark right now.”

“Dark?” Barney said. “The world is filling with fairytale creatures and abilities out of Marvel and the world is dark? Really?”

“It’s a madhouse out there,” Robin said, sounding a little softer now. “You’re getting off easy. A couple of thousand have already died, just around the New York area and the death toll just keeps rising. And besides, it's not just humans that are changing.”

Barney stopped, spoon half-way to his mouth, one word stuck in his head. “Died?”

Lily nodded. “Like Marshall said. The hospitals are filled with sick people. Not everyone makes it.”

Barney swallowed the spoonful of soup, suddenly very grateful for his friends. “Damn.”

He finished his soup, the room suddenly quiet around him. Robin was staring out the window, a faraway look on her face. Ted was shuffling around, looking a little uncomfortable. Lily and Marshall shared looks and they didn’t need any kind of new telepathic ability to communicate.

When he was done, Lily took the bowl. “You should rest. The public service announcements have said that people growing new limbs should eat a lot and rest a lot. I’ll wake you up in an hour so that you can eat some more.”

“You don’t think these are done?” Barney asked, glancing over his shoulder to look at the wings. They really were stuck to his shoulders. Huh.

“I know they aren’t,” Lily said, smiling slightly. “They’ll be huge with all white feathers when they’re done.”

Barney’s eyes widened. “And I’ll actually be able to fly?”

“If you can’t, you should totally ask for a refund,” Marshall said.

Lily’s smile was soft and gentle. “You’ll fly.”

Barney’s smile grew wide. “You hear that, Ted? I’m going to up my awesome to awesome squared with these. I’ll fly.” He chuckled, a little madly. “I’ll be your wingman forever.”

Robin hid a smile behind her hand as the others groaned at him.

Somehow exhausted from simply eating and talking to his friends – though it was more likely to do with the fact that his body was building two large attachments and that took a whole lot of energy – Barney laid down and closed his eyes. The last thing he thought before he drifted off into sleep was that he’d no longer be able to sleep on his back if he had wings.

Read? Review!

Readers of Wingman:

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