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Bullseyes and bets

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“Hey, Cupcake. Fiver says you can’t stop my arrow from hitting the target.”

“Cupid, you are so on.” Bucky flipped his knife, catching the hilt with a dull thud against his left hand. “Double or nothing says I can do it with a knife.”

Clint grinned and tapped out a combination on his quiver, changing the arrowhead. “Challenge accepted.”

“Hey, no enhanced arrows on this range, Robin Hood.”

Clint frowned. Bucky had a point there. He reached back and drew one of the non-enhanced arrows. “Sure thing, Tin Man.”

“I thought Stark was the Tin Man.”

Clint shrugged. “He’s not here, is he? Would you rather be Maid Marion?”

Bucky flipped the knife again. “You just gonna to keep talking, Cuddlebug?”

“Nope.” Clint knocked the arrow, drew the bowstring and let the arrow fly smoothly with little warning to Bucky. Bucky reacted instinctively and threw the knife. The knife hit the arrow mid-flight and knocked it sideways from just behind the arrowhead onto the bullseye of the target in the adjacent lane of the range. The knife snapped the arrow at the base and just missed thudding into the target.

Clint pulled two fives out of a pocket and handed them to Bucky. “Nice throw. Shame about the miss, princess…”

“BARTON!” Agent Ward’s voice carried from the adjacent lane.

“Here we go,” Clint muttered. “Had to be him, didn’t it?”

Bucky grinned and leaned back against the desk of the lane. Clint slung his bow over his shoulder by the string and mimicked the other man’s body language. When Ward rounded the divider between the lanes, he stopped, frowned and folded his arms. Seeing the pair of them attempting to look innocent, when there was no-one else on the range using either arrows or throwing knives just made him angrier. “What the hell are you two doing?”

Clint smirked and looked Ward up and down. He knew the guy’s reputation, but they had never really had that much to do with each other. Natasha had expressed disdain for the guy, though he suspected that was because Ward had almost out-spied her in their most recent assessments. He turned his head to look up at Bucky. “I dunno, Comrade Cookie, what were we doing?”

Bucky shrugged, and lifted his left hand to tap his chin, the fingers making a quiet whirring as he moved them. “We were practicing our marksmanship, I believe, Fruit Loop.”

“Yeah, well, practice in your own lane,” Ward growled.

“Aww, come on, Porcupine,” Clint said with a grin. “We were here first.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Hedgehog? No! What’s the Australian one? Echidna!”

“Barton…” Ward folded his arms.

"I don't think he likes us," Bucky said. "Maybe Pufferfish would be a better handle. Cute and adorable until something provokes him? Do you even have a handle yet, Ward?"

"Not all of us need to be so dramatic," Ward snapped.

"Definitely prickly, isn't he? Maybe Cactus would be a better name?"

"BARTON! Don't make me report you."

"To who? And why do you keep blaming me? Bucky's in on it too."

"To Coulson."

"You're going to run to Big Daddy?" Clint said.

"His codename is 'Cheese', Barton."

Clint's face broke into a sly grin. "And why do you think that is, Prickly Pear?"

Ward opened his mouth to reply, and then thought the better of it. He turned around, and cleared his pistol at the range before stalking out of the room to the laughter of the other two agents.