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re: re: re: re: bad ideas you and clint barton have had

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So you're doing better now.

Nine times out of ten you wake up in the morning and you've slept at least four hours and you remember that your name is James Buchanan Barnes and that you were a HYDRA weapon but now you're Bucky again, or as near enough to make no difference. You live with your best friend Steve in a giant tower in New York with seven or eight other crazy people and a cat named Cat and three robots and a voice that comes from the walls. The tenth time you climb into Steve's bed at three am and shove your face into his armpit, which he hates and complains about sleepily, but his arms wrap around you anyway. You fall asleep smelling the faint traces of his soap and the vaguely pleasant detergent of his sheets.

It's not even the weirdest thing you two have done. Your friendship alarms your therapists slightly but you don't care and neither does Steve, except that now you have reached the point where you stubbornly insist that he has to go if you have to go. He pouts and you glare and you set your will against his for the first time since 1943 and somehow you win.

Things are not so bad. Sometimes, though, it seems best to go find one of the sniper nests that Tony Stark has built throughout the living quarters for Clinton Barton and stay there for a while. The visibility is good and the space is comfortingly small and enclosed, and always warm and soft. Sometimes Clinton Barton climbs up to the same nest, and sometimes he nods at you and climbs down again. Sometimes, though, you shift over in silent invitation and he heaves himself up beside you. It's almost as nice as climbing into Steve's bed to have Clinton Barton's sturdy form beside you while you take turns dozing as the other keeps watch. Sometimes the cat named Cat scrambles up too, curling up in a warm furry ball against your legs and purring drowsily.

One day you and Cat are sitting in the sniper's nest in the middle of the living room, the one you have to crawl through the vents to reach, when Clinton Barton's head pops out of the vent. You can tell immediately that he's not here to sit quietly. His eyes are gleaming with something you think is mischief and he's got a brightly colored plastic bow and a gun also made out of bright plastic. It says NERF on the side, and you wonder briefly what NERF means. "Dude," says Clinton Barton. "Dude, look what I found. It's a Hawkeye NERF bow."

"So?" you say.

"We've got to try it out," says Clinton Barton. "I got you a gun, too, see?"

You consider this for a moment. You're still not supposed to be around weapons even though you're carrying five knives and a garrote. Steve looks disappointed every time he has to pat you down before you go through a metal detector. But, you reason, it's clearly a children's toy. It reminds you of the popgun your father bought for you when you were five. You'd nearly popped Steve's eye out with it.

Also, you're bored again.

"How much ammo?" you say.

Clinton Barton smiles at you.


By mutual silent agreement Natasha Romanov, Maria Hill, and Bruce Banner are excluded from your list of victims. JARVIS has agreed to keep score for the two of you. You and Clinton Barton crawl silently through the vents, stopping briefly to scratch Cat behind the ear when she squeezes past you on some business of her own. You wonder what she does. This building doesn't seem like it has much to hunt. You continue on until you get to the gym and peer down from one of the viewpoints. Sam Wilson and Steve are sparring. Sam is doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Steve, but you sniff anyway and aim your gun toward his head. It's a good clean shot and Sam Wilson yelps in surprise when it connects. Clinton Barton follows it with a shot to Steve's neck. They both spin around and Sam Wilson takes the name of the Lord repeatedly in vain.

"Barnes!" he yells. "You better show your skinny white ass!" That seems rude, but you suppose there probably isn't anybody else who would be firing at them with foam pellets.

It takes a moment for you to realize that the sound you are making is a snicker.

Steve is still looking around wildly, so you poke Clinton Barton and you crawl hastily away before he finds where you came from. You see Tony Stark stumbling down the hall and you take a perfect shot at him. You're annoyed when he doesn't seem to notice. Pepper Potts has been in London for a week and Tony Stark has, predictably, reacted poorly. Clinton Barton also shoots at him. It takes five shots before Tony Stark wakes up enough to realize something is up, and then he stares at the foam pellets and arrows with a bemused expression, before he looks up and you and Clinton Barton both nail him on the middle of the forehead.

You skitter away, giggling.


You manage to nail Jane Foster and her assistant Darcy as they're walking to the lab, and then you get Tony Stark again, right on the ass. You and Clinton Barton are getting a little bored with vents, though, as funny as it is to see Sam Wilson jump and swear when a pellet whistles by. Anyway Steve is starting to stare at the vents and the sniper's nests thoughtfully and you know you won't be able to take him in the narrow space.

Clinton Barton is on his phone. "Now, Kate," he says, "This sounds bad, but can you come to the Tower with like, a gross of NERF arrows and a bow?" You poke him and jerk your head toward the vent. Steve is staring almost directly at you, and he was the sneakiest motherfucker in the neighborhood at hide and seek. You move hastily away and Clinton Barton follows after, cajoling and whining in a whisper.

You hear the voice of Kate Bishop say, "Ugh, fine, whatever, you're buying the pizza for the next month." and then the phone clicking off. You climb down the ladder to ground level and open the hidden door cautiously. It's clear for now, so you reload your weapon and slide out of the way so Clinton Barton can come out as well. You have to be careful because Steve is looking for you, and Steve walks like a cat when he wants to. You wonder how you are going to explain this to your therapists. You decide that you'll worry about that when it's time to worry about it, and open the door cautiously.

"Kate's half an hour out," whispers Clinton Barton.

You nod. At the other end of the corridor you see Natasha Romanov walking to her quarters. She has the cat named Cat in her arms and is talking to her softly in Russian. You hold your fire. The next person walking down the hall is Steve, looking around carefully, so you wait until you have a good shot at his ass and pop it one, two, three, four times. He whirls around and you and Clinton Barton flee.

He gives chase, of course, and you whoop joyously, turning around to shoot him in the chest as he leaps toward you and you jump up and pull yourself into a vent. It's been a long time since you've felt like this. You hear Steve pull himself up into the vent, but his shoulders are too broad to let him move quickly and you eel your way through to another hatch. You drop down beside Darcy, who shrieks and laughs at the same time, throw a smirk at her, and bolt again.

You meet up with Clinton Barton at the corner, and Sam Wilson appears like an avenging angel with another NERF gun in his hand. "Ha!" he crows. "Eat pellet!"

Three things happen at once: Steve drops down from a vent to tackle you, Clinton Barton ducks to avoid the pellet, and Bruce Banner turns the corner just in time to be hit by Sam Wilson's shot. It's a gorgeous shot. You would have been proud to make that shot yourself. It hits squarely on Bruce Banner's forehead and all of you --- Clinton Barton still crouched on the ground, Sam Wilson with the gun still pointing at Bruce Banner, and Steve holding you in a half-nelson --- freeze.

There is dead silence for exactly thirty seconds and then Sam Wilson says, very quietly, "Oh my Jesus, have mercy on my soul."

Bruce Banner removes his eyeglasses. "Gentlemen," he says, "of course you realize. This means war."

You're not ashamed to crowd behind Steve with Clinton Barton and Sam Wilson. Bruce Banner doesn't turn into the Hulk, though. He just looks up at the ceiling and says, "JARVIS, connect me to Tony."

"Indeed, Dr Banner," says JARVIS.

"Yeah, pumpkin cake?" says Tony Stark's voice.

"Tony, we've got some jocks to school," says Bruce Banner.


Even though five minutes before you and Clinton Barton were stalking Sam Wilson and Steve, you have no compunctions about grabbing them both and fleeing for a defensible location. Tony Stark's maniacal laughter follows you.


You're hiding and having a whispered argument about how much ammunition you have left to spare against an army of robots and drones. Steve's shoulder is pressed warmly against yours and Sam Wilson is jabbing at a tablet of blueprints and arguing about defensible positions. Clinton Barton is listening to Kate Bishop's lecture. The cat named Cat appears to be outfitted with a vest of laser seeking missiles, but you have managed to reprogram them so that she is nominally on your side.

Things could be worse.