Disclaimer: I make no profit. Characters belong to HIMYM, Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman
He gets another chance; he supposes he should thank Lilah for somehow getting him out of his contract. He tries, for the split second before he forgets everything, including the look in her eyes and the knowledge of what more she had given up for his freedom.
He has no recollection that he was anyone other than Sandy Rivers, smiling for the camera. He doesn’t remember betraying his friends, losing the woman who stole his heart to a god who wore her face, and floating in hell beside a champion as his link to Wolfram and Hart.
But when he finds her, Penelope, he feels strangely drawn. She’s not his type at all that he knows of. She’s bookish, outspoken and way too un-glamourous for a TV News Anchor of his standing.
Nonetheless, he keeps finding reasons to run into her. He finds reasons to speak with her, and at last, he finds a reason to kiss her.
It’s sweet and wonderful. They take walks in the park, under the summer sun. They eat frozen yogurt and discuss the finer points of the Star Wars trilogy. He’s so happy he can hardly wipe that smile off his face; his managers chastise him for looking so cheerful when reporting bad news.
He gives them the finger behind his back and agrees to become more sombre on television. It doesn’t quite work, but everyone sighs and decides to let it go.
The two of them aren’t careful though; one day, Penelope tells him over dinner, face warring between hope and dread that they’re going to have a baby.
“But that’s marvelous!” he responds after a second of silence. His heart is beating so fast he thinks it’d pop right of out his chest.
She laughs then, relieved and joyful. Glowing.
“But that’s marvelous!
” she responds, mimicking him. “That sounds so British.”
At night, he dreams the dreams of a TV Anchor, except when he doesn’t.
He dreams of faces he should know. He loves each one; the silent, strong man forever fighting a lonely battle within himself. The beautiful, witty Seer he knows they will all lose. A best friend who is so broken inside, yet unwilling to surrender to the despair that eats at him like a worm.
Even Penelope is there, still reading her books, still smart as a button. Except in his dreams, she becomes ruined beyond recourse. Shattered and rebuilt in a god’s image.
He dreams of L.A., the same one he visited years ago in college. But something is so wrong with this place; the skies are red and filled with dragons. Demons peer at him from the shattered, empty windows and corpses decorate the street.
Often, he dreams of his own death.
One night, and only one, he dreams of sitting in a dimly lit bar, across from an elegantly suited woman, sipping on the kind of absolutely perfect scotch one could only find in a dream. At the next table sat a man in dark robes with eyes the colour of night, with a gleam that could have been starlight from deep within. The man played with the stem of a wine glass filled with, Sandy instinctively knew, a rare and priceless vintage. He could hear the voice of an Englishman blather on about the 80s, and why they were the worst decade witnessed by mankind yet. For a brief second, his eyes met the dark-clad man; he felt a shiver pass through his spine, and realized he was still asleep.
The woman he's with clears her throat pointedly, and he snaps out of his reverie. A beautiful scarf is wound around her neck, and he’s terrified of lifting it for what he’d find.
“I guess Wonderland is working out for you.” She says, smiling her flawless smile which never touches her eyes.
“Quite. It’s a good life.” He hears his voice say.
He tells her about the baby, and about his job at CNN. They laugh, but never reminisce.
When he wakes up, his heart feels strangely broken, and he cannot say why.
Penelope shifts beside him, her swollen belly rendering her sleep less comfortable than it used to be. He reaches to hold her, and the dreams slip away, leaving nothing but the contented body of Sandy Rivers.