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26 March 2009 @ 01:51 am
Best Imitation of Myself (1/?)  
Title: Best Imitation of Myself
Author: solojones
Fandom: HIMYM, Barney/Robin
Rating: PG-13
Barney Stinson has always been good at putting on a show. But it's becoming harder and harder to hide his true feelings, and his true self, from Robin.
Disclaimer: Yeah, it's not mine.
Note: The inspiration for this fic and the lyrics in it are from "Best Imitation of Myself", a Ben Folds Five song that has been one of my favorites for years. To me, this is like Barney's theme song. I recommend you listen to it here at last.fm. Also, this is my first HIMYM fic. And I'm new to LJ. Yep.
Spoilers for: Anything season 4 that's aired. This takes place somewhere after "The Stinsons" and might wind up referencing any current eps.
Word count: 1,188

I feel like a quote out of context, withholding the rest so I can be for you what you want to see. I’ve got the gesture and sounds, got the timing down. It’s uncanny. Yeah, you’d think it was me.


     Barney Stinson was good at reading people. It was something he prided himself on, a natural talent he’d honed into an art. And, true, it came in handy for dodging questions about activities that might, in certain countries, be considered minor acts of espionage. But that was more of a beneficial side-effect. No, the real point of reading people was to be able to play right into their hands. Particularly women’s hands. Preferably their well-manicured, long-enough-nails-to-leave-scratch-marks hands. Yeah.

     Yes, Barney knew what people wanted to hear from him. Or, in the case of his friends, expected to hear from him at this point. Knew what put them at ease, not to mention what set them on edge to hear coming from him. That, he’d learned all too well in the past year. So even as he found himself sitting alone across from Robin, a situation that frankly made him a little queasy in a way totally unrelated to what he’d recently had to eat or drink, Barney was practiced enough to know exactly what would keep her from noticing. 

     “I’ll have an Aberlour 12 year with ginger ale,” he said, leaning back casually in the booth as Wendy nodded and headed back towards the bar. He let his eyes roam the room a little, knowing Robin would assume he was on the lookout for bimbos and would never guess he was avoiding staring too deliberately at her neck.

     “You know Barney, there’s something I’ve always wondered about you,” Robin mused. His eyes drifted back to her with practiced nonchalance.

     “Yes, I’m a natural blonde,” he cut in. “But you should remember that.” He winked purposefully. It got the expected eye roll.

     Continuing as though he hadn’t spoken, Robin asked, “How is it that someone who claims to be such a Scotch aficionado always orders their single malts with ice or soda or, God forbid, Red Bull?”

     The real reasons ran through his mind. Drinking Scotch had seemed like an appropriately manly and awesome thing to add to his post-Shannon persona. Unfortunately, the first time he’d tried Scotch straight, his throat and chest felt somewhat like a bog on fire. And it tasted a little like it, too. He’d found adding something to the Scotch helped mellow it out. It had enabled him to pretend to like it long enough for him to actually grow to like it. But still, only diluted.

     Which is what a real person might have said in response. But he had read Robin clearly on this, and not just tonight. She had practically screamed it herself during that awkward semi-date they’d had months ago. She didn’t want him to be a real person. She wanted him to be Barney.

     It took him only a split-second to add this all up. “Oh. Ohhh-ho!” Barney crowed with exaggerated indignation. “That’s rich coming from miss Johnnie Walker.” He snorted. Wendy arrived with the tray, perfect timing for him to grab his drink and use it as a prop for dramatic gesticulation. “Seriously, if you’re gonna drink a blended Scotch, you might as well just drink moonshine made in a hollowed-out pumpkin in a barn loft. Please.” He punctuated his point with a sip of his awesome drink.

     Robin, encouraged by his own antics, increased her volume a little. “At least I take mine neat!” She countered, sitting forward. “You’re saying cheaper, less snobby Scotch is horrible, but Scotch mixed with ginger ale is okay?”

     Ah, a perfect opportunity for pontification. Classic. “Robin, in my travels around the world, I have seen and tasted the delicacies of many lands. And not just the ladies.” He nodded and grinned broadly, proud of the grimace this elicited from Robin. “And I have concluded that a single malt Scotch is just one of those drinks that is totally awesome on its own, but happens to be even more awesome when combined with another awesome drink. Call me crazy, but I think a good ginger ale can make a Scotch even Scotchier.”

     He had to bite his cheek to keep himself from remarking that maybe she was his ginger ale. Wait, where had that come from? His face twitched a little and he covered it with a cough. I mean, really? That was an uncharacteristically Ted-like analogy for his mind to betray him and make.

     Robin shook her head, finishing her sip of beer before replying, “Doesn’t this go against your whole theory of how all mixed drinks are inherently girly because the complete integration of two drinks is just a projection of the female desire for marriage? Why would mixed Scotch drinks be an exception?”

     “It just tastes better that way,” he muttered, sounding a little like a grumpy child. Fortunately, his mouth was already closing in around his glass for another drink, muffling his words.

     Robin’s eyes narrowed slightly in a manner that suggested she knew he’d said something that might be incriminating. But she let it slide, along with the underlying implication she apparently didn’t realize was there. Thankfully.

     “I’m just saying,” Robin said with a shrug, “to me Scotch is one of those drinks that doesn’t mix well with others, you know? It’s like if you mix it, it’s just not Scotch anymore.”

     He paused, his glass perched on the edge of his lips for another sip. His hand sank a little as he peered over the edge of the glass at Robin. The glimmer faded from Barney’s eyes. He could feel it happening, against his will. He took a deliberate gulp of his drink, savoring the fiery-sweet flavor. Robin must have noticed, because she made a little face of mock disgust at his enjoyment of the bastardized version of the drink.

     Or maybe she could see the look drifting into his eyes. Suddenly the alarm bells went off in his brain, the ones that usually told him a girl he was chatting up was about to figure out he was not actually a world renowned fencer or the owner of Sea World. It was only a tiny change in Robin’s expression, but that was all it took. He was, after all, very good.

     Barney subtly made a face as he looked down at his drink. A calculated hint of dissatisfaction at this obviously inferior, girly, Teddish drink. Just enough of a show that he knew Robin would catch it. He gave her a look that said, “okay, maybe you were right. This is an inferior drink, but I’m not going to admit it.” She totally bought it. When she took another sip of her beer, she raised one eyebrow in victory.  

     Outwardly, he kept up his bravado. Privately, he vowed to order his Scotch neat around her from now on. Guess that uncomfortable burn in his chest was something he’d get used to. At least now he could lie and tell himself it was just the Scotch.

Part 2

Current Mood: chipperchipper
intergalactic super geek: tacolovephantmgreeneyes on March 26th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC)
Oh, Barney! /huggles Comparing her to Scotch and soda. Fantastic. This was great!! I can't wait to read more! You are a very good writer.
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 10:01 am (UTC)
All right, someone who's up as late as I am :P

Thanks so much for the review. I haven't written fic in a long time and this LJ thing is totally foreign to me so I'm just trying to get into this community and I love it.

I have to fess up to being a Scotch drinker. So I've noticed that Robin drinks hers neat and that Barney, for all his Scotch-drinking, never drinks it in a "sophisticated" manner (Brandy sniffer, neat). Nope, with ice, with soda, Red Bull ;) Thought that was interesting and the metaphors just kind of worked themselves out from there. I'm glad you liked it.
(no subject) - idioticonion on March 26th, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 26th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - idioticonion on March 26th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 26th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Heh, I think Scotch and Soda is my new personal vision of Barney and Robin ;) Glad you liked it. Hopefully the next chapter will be up soon.
Magpie: AWESOMEmagpieinthesky on March 26th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
Oh, this is a neat premise! I'm liking the flow so far... hope to see more soon!
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
I was worried this first chapter didn't get enough into the plot elements of this story, but in reality those are going to be secondary to the character stuff. So glad you felt like it flowed well so far.
idioticonionidioticonion on March 26th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying the angst of this and I'm wondering how you're going to play it out. Just keep torturing him a little more, will you? We love his sad!face. Hehe.
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Hey, if it's torturing a beloved character, I'm your woman ;) I have a serious angst addiction. So don't worry, there's definitely more.
Barbara: BroTPhtbthomas on March 26th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
*waves* Hey! Nice to see you around again! I didn't know you shipped the BroTP. Great minds, eh...?

I really do like the way you really show us that "Barney" is an act. He loves her, he hasn't really changed inside, but he's good at that outward facade. Looking forward to the next part!
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Woah, hey! Awesome to see you here. Guess we both have great taste in ships. Though writing Barney is a little different than writing Clark Kent ;) I just recently became a HIMYM fan and then how can you *not* ship BroTP, right?

Glad you liked this part. I'll definitely keep poking at Barney's facade.
(no subject) - htbthomas on March 26th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Phoenix: chuck booksda_phoenix13 on March 26th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like this so far. I know next to nothing about scotch, so I thought your observations about their drinking habits were really interesting and the metaphors you came up with are pretty apropos for both characters. (Especially Robin's thought that scotch is a drink that "doesn't mix well with others".) And I adore the last paragraph.

Can't wait to see what you come up with next!
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
I knew learning the ins and outs of Scotch would come in handy someday.

I'm glad you liked the last paragraph. I was hoping it would work as it just sort of came out and onto the page without much thought. Just felt right.
Otemps: Barney/Robinotempora42 on March 26th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
Ooh, this was really good. I really love how self-conscious you make Barney -- he's always planning what he's going to say, and I love how Robin calls him out on it (via scotch, but still). And the metaphors and the voices are spot-on. I really hope that you write more soon.
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I feel like one of the most interesting things about Barney that we see through the years is that he's the most sensitive in the gang. He has that huge need to be liked and loved, and we know he's also a great schemer. His persona is kind of the pinnacle of both, to me. Glad you liked it.
Butterfly: [HIMYM] barney and robinsnogged on March 26th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying this so far :) Keep up the great work.

solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the support!
The Supercalifragilistic Supernovakriziasupernova on March 26th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
I love it. It's a very well-written story. A+ for you!
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
You know, I just graduated college in December (majored in English) and normally being handed a grade on my writing would just give me flashbacks to all those essays. But an A+? Well, guess I have to make an exception. Thank you!
[a][m][b][e][r]: feelyloquaciousambie on March 26th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Awesome. I love how that metaphor just unrolled out of nowhere! I totally didn't see it coming and then, aww.
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
You know, I just chose the Scotch thing at first as a jumping off point, and the metaphor sneaked up on me, too.
way to get traught: why don't you break my heart| himympeasantings on March 26th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
Guess that uncomfortable burn in his chest was something he’d get used to. At least now he could lie and tell himself it was just the Scotch.

Such a great line! So heartbreaking. Great story, I love the part where you talk about a real person vs. Barney, and how Robin seems to want Barney. Can't wait for the next part.
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
That was probably my favourite line when I looked back over this, too. Glad it connected with you. They'll definitely be more of "Barney" v. Real Barney to come.
i'm the hero of the storybecause_i_hope on March 26th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
I've never noticed it, but I love the scotch concept!

Can't wait for more. :0
solojonessolojones on March 26th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Now you're doomed to always notice it in the show ;)
sgtawesome85 on March 27th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
WOW that was great! Can't wait to read more! :)
solojonessolojones on March 27th, 2009 06:59 am (UTC)
Thanks :D And hey, I'm glad you made it over to the community. It'll be nice seeing you here and at the official site :)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on March 27th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sgtawesome85 on March 27th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rashka the Demon (wolf in the cave): Origin of Loverashaka on March 27th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
Wonderfully done. The conversation was believable, on multiple levels.
solojonessolojones on March 27th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Believability is one of the most important things in fics that I write, for me personally. So I'm glad you thought it worked.
(no subject) - rashaka on March 27th, 2009 07:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 27th, 2009 09:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
roland44: Behind back fiveroland44 on March 27th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)
“Robin, in my travels around the world, I have seen and tasted the delicacies of many lands. And not just the ladies.”
This was steak sauce :) I love the "mixing it up" metaphors...poor Barney's so insecure sigh!
solojonessolojones on March 27th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC)
Heh, sometimes you just have to let your inner Barney out for those comments, you know? Fortunately for me, my inner Barney is not very hidden ;)

insecure!Barney is adorable but also the most interesting version of him we get to see on the show. Makes so much fodder for fics.
(no subject) - roland44 on March 27th, 2009 07:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 27th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
the air i breathe is stained with inkmissymeggins on March 28th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
Great chapter! I'm really enjoying this.

I do have to nitpick one tiny thing (sorry, it's a compulsion haha), cos I'm Australian. If Alastair was from Melbourne he'd be more likely to play AFL than Rugby. But only Aussies would pick that up so it's not a big deal. :)
solojonessolojones on March 28th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
Hey, it's ok. I fully admit to never having been to Australia. I do like rugby, though (I'm a big American football fan but my college didn't have a team so we always watched our rugby team). I *have*, however, been to Finland so... there's something there, right? :p
(no subject) - missymeggins on March 28th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 28th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - missymeggins on March 28th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solojones on March 29th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
damato019: How I Met Your Motherdamato019 on May 12th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oh man, this is really good! It's also my first time reading a Barney/Robin fanfic.
That is not because I only just got interested in this pairing. Ever since Barney found out that he likes Robin, Ted and Robin as a couple were no longer an option -- lol! I love those two together! *grin*
I finally caught up with all the episodes a few nights ago. Blame it on the finals. ]x So now I can read HIMYM fanfiction without the fear of seeing a spoiler. d:
Anyways, I love this so far! I really love how insecure Barney feels. <3
solojonessolojones on May 13th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Glad you've gotten into the show and caught up, and enjoy the best pairing out there :) Hope you like this first Barney/Robin fic as well.
purely_distel: HIMYM - KAPOOOWpurely_distel on May 28th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
god, this is perfect!!! They are both SO in character!! Off to read the rest - hope there is LOTS more!!!
Phoenix: legendary awardsda_phoenix13 on June 14th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
You've been nominated at the Legendary Awards!
This message is to inform you that you have been nominated at 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
- Best General
- Best Angst
- Best Dark
- Best Long/Multichapter
- Best Work In Progress
- Best Ted
- Best Barney


And if you want to say thanks, why not spread the love and nominate someone else? :)
solojonessolojones on June 15th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
Re: You've been nominated at the Legendary Awards!
Yep, I'll definitely accept the nominations. Thanks! I still need to get to submitting my own nominations, too. I'm honored :)