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Completely Stuffed

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The worst thing about reanimated taxidermy exhibits rampaging within the Museum of Natural History? The various class excursions trapped inside. There were kids running all over the place, and teachers screaming, and among all of that madness Clint was struggling to get a clear shot of a lion with a moth-eaten mane because apparently no one in New York knew how to follow the signs toward the exit. The fact that Clint had used a few exploding arrows early on wasn’t helping things. Because taxidermied animals? Apparently super flammable.

Worst museum trip ever.

But the guy in the suit? The one who happened to utilise a nearby fire extinguisher for the purpose of putting out the flames on a pack of assorted primates, and then rather cunningly used the fire extinguisher to then beat the heads of the beats off their smouldering, sawdusty shoulders? Was certainly improving the scenery a little.

Not that Clint was looking. They just happened to end up taking shelter behind the same overturned table, and Mister Suit just happened to spend some time down on one knee, working one of the table legs loose to use as a club.

“‘Get out of the office’, they said. ‘Go on the field trip, it’ll be educational’ they said. Goddamn freeloading teachers.”

“You a dad?” Clint asked, before popping his head up over the table and spotting a stuffed cheetah hunkering down to pounce at them. It took two bullets to the head to dissuade it from that particular course of action.

“Close,” Mister Suit replied. “Principal.” Their conversation was interrupted by a giant tortoise snapping at Clint’s ankle. His new friend grabbed the tortoise by the neck and ripped its head off. “Principal Coulson,” he said by way of introduction, and tossed the still-snapping head over his shoulder.

“Nice to meet you, Principal Coulson,” Clint returned. He hoisted up the tortoise shell and dropped it over the other side of the table, taking out a vicious gaggle of ducklings that had been trying to scale the smooth wood. “Enjoying your field trip?”

“It’s just like I remembered,” Coulson replied drily. “Excuse me.” He pulled an arrow out of Clint’s quiver, turned around, and shoved the arrow through the head of a koala bear with bloodstained paws. Coulson then gripped both ends of the arrow, and twisted the koala’s head clean off its body. Clint was in love.

“I know, right?” he yelled back as he fired his last bullets into the side of a dolphin that was scooting its way across the floor. The dolphin did not seem particularly put out by this. That said, it was a preserved skin stuffed with sawdust – it was probably busy being pissed off about those things to worry about anything else. Clint swore and took up his bow. “Same old stuffed animals trying to eat people.”

“The exhibit’s gotten a little stale,” Coulson said, and Clint couldn’t help snorting a laugh.

“Tell me about it. You’d think the museum people would realise that this has all been done.”

“It’s taking ‘beating a dead horse’ to a whole new level,” Coulson agreed.

Clint didn’t bother fighting the grin on his face. “Ha. Funny and cute. Let me guess – taken?”

Coulson lunged over the side of the table, stabbing the dolphin in the blowhole with Clint’s arrow, pinning it to the floor. “I live alone with my cat, and I’ve named my taser,” he said bluntly. “For some strange reason that’s not exactly calling the suitors to my door.”

Clint considered this information as he fired an arrow into a vulture that had started circling them. “What did you name your taser?” he finally asked.

“Mittens.”

Clint laughed. “My heart just skipped a beat right then,” he admitted as Coulson tore open the side of the pinned dolphin and pulled the stuffing from inside the animal’s head.

“Your heart can do whatever it wants,” Coulson volleyed back, “so long as the rest of you doesn’t stop shooting these things.” Clint grinned and set about taking out a charging zebra.

The was a lull in the commotion as the stuffed animals regrouped, and Coulson darted out from behind the long table to collect several of Clint’s arrows. Hot, funny, and considerate – Clint was considering proposing. Instead he pulled a knife from his belt and gave it to Coulson when he skidded back behind the safety of the toppled table. “Hey,” Clint said, all cool and casual as he notched another arrow, “if we get out of this alive, want to grab a coffee?”

“Sure.” Coulson had a respectable grip on Clint’s knife, and was poised and ready. He offered Clint a small, composed smile. “And if we survive coffee, I might have a few ideas for how to spend the rest of the evening.”

Clint grinned. Best museum visit ever.