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Happy Little Trees

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"What are the charges?"

The desk clerk opened the file in front of him and heaved a sigh. "Disorderly conduct, public indecency, disturbing the peace, destruction of property, public endangerment, arson, resisting arrest, possession of an illegal weapon, illegal parking, failure to yield to an oncoming vehicle, littering."

"What was the illegal weapon?"

"Flaming. Arrows." He fixed Coulson with a dark look, as if Coulson was personally responsible for this insanity.

Coulson took a moment to visit his Zen Place. This guy. This guy. Coulson didn't care if Fury was all hot and bothered over this guy, this guy was going to put Coulson into an early grave.

"I'd like to see him."

The clerk grunted and led Coulson down the hall to the holding cells. Barton was in the third one on the left, bruised and bloodied and handcuffed to the bars. He grinned when he saw Coulson .

"Hey!"

"Don't speak." He waited until the clerk had retreated back to his desk. "Explain."

"I didn't start it, I swear."

"You never do."

"It was just a friendly game of darts--"

"It always is."

"--accused me of cheating! I can't help it they suck at darts and their girlfriends liked me better than them. Then someone brought their mothers into it, I don't know, there were bikers, and a car chase, I don't know how that homeless guy got involved but he's a great spotter you guys should look into him, and we were nowhere near that sushi place I don't care what anyone says..."

Happy little trees, happy little clouds. Coulson focused on his mantra, repeated it to himself over and over. Visualized. Breathed.

"...midgets, and I'm like, what? Then that hotdog cart came out of nowhere, and I had no choice."

"No choice but flaming arrows."

"Yeah." Barton shrugged, like it was the obvious and most logical conclusion.

Coulson looked at him, unrepentant in the holding cell. Repeated his mantra. Counted to ten. Counted to thirty. Breathed.

"Okay."

"Yeah?" Barton smiled and started to get up, and Coulson held up a hand to stop him.

"Okay, someone will be by to collect you in the morning. Say, nineish."

Barton stared at him in disbelief. "It's two in the morning!"

Coulson smiled. "Then I suggest you make yourself comfortable, and try to think up a better explanation for Director Fury then, 'flaming arrows because'."