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I Hate Running

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"Stop. Stop! Jesus," Bucky said, gasping and sweating, his right arm wrapped around his waist.

Clint, bouncing lightly from foot to foot, looked at him in concern.

"Should you be hunched over like that?" he asked, and Bucky lifted his face enough to shoot him a glare.

"Stitch in my side," Bucky managed, dragging himself over to a concrete retaining wall and flopping down onto it. Clint stretched, perplexed. A little run around Central Park wasn't supposed to put the most terrifying assassin in the world on his back like this.

"I thought you were a super-soldier," he said, and Bucky flailed one hand haplessly. "Do super-soldiers suffer side-stitches? Hah, tongue twister," he added, pleased with himself.

"I'm not a super-soldier," Bucky said, exhaling sharply.

"Uh, your history with cryogenics and your ability to bench-press Tony when he's in the Iron Man suit says differently," Clint pointed out.

"You really aren't gonna let that Iron Man thing go until we try it, are you?" Bucky asked.

"I just think it'd be funny. And also a great new wallpaper for my phone."

"If you actually know how to set the wallpaper on your phone..."

"I'm just worried that your super-ness is breaking down or something," Clint said.

"Why are you so fast?" Bucky asked.

"Excuse me?"

"You're so fast! You just keep running. Why? Who do you hate? Is it yourself?" Bucky managed. "I'm not a super-soldier!"

"Are you having a crisis?" Clint ventured after a moment.

"I'm having a stitch in my side!" Bucky replied.

"And a crisis?"

Bucky sat up, rubbing his right side, just where his shirt rode up from the track pants he was wearing.

"Look, I didn't get the perfect craftsman Erskine serum Steve got," he said. "I got the banged-together moonshine crackpot serum Arnim Zola made."

"Yeah, but you can do all the...things..." Clint gestured, stretching out a hamstring.

"I'm peachy at falling off trains and shooting people, yeah," Bucky retorted.

"And lifting a lot of weights and surviving Natasha's death thighs!"

"Fine! But I'm not super at everything! You know at least with Hydra I never had to run anywhere. They had cars!"

Clint stared at him. "You...when I asked if you wanted to go running this morning, is this the first time you've actually gone running?"

"I'm not a runner," Bucky said. "I'm a tank. I walk purposefully. I'm world-renowned for my purposeful walk," he added, petulant. "How many miles did we run?"

Clint checked his wrist tracker. "Two and a half."

Bucky flopped back again. "Leave me to die."

"Come on, the cardio's good for your old-man heart," Clint cajoled, grabbing him by the arm and trying to pull him upright. It was like dislodging a boulder, or trying to chisel a sleeping Steve Rogers off the common-room couch. "We can walk back if you're really tired."

"I don't want to walk two miles!"

"Whiner," Clint said. "We'll walk one mile and I'll buy you breakfast before we walk the other, how's that?"

Bucky allowed himself to be pulled upright. "Diner breakfast."

"I was going to buy you a grapes-and-cheese box at Starbucks," Clint told him. "And a nice herbal tea. You really need to learn to eat healthier if -- "

He stopped, because Bucky had put him in a headlock. He wasn't doing anything, just standing there calmly with Clint in a headlock. A couple of other runners went past, looking intrigued-but-prepared-to-mind-their-own-business in true New York fashion. Clint gave them a thumbs-up.

"Okay, okay, steak and eggs," Clint agreed, and Bucky let him go. "Seriously though, you should start running more often. You can come with me! Up early, sun's not over the horizon, the Smell of New York isn't fully fermented, and usually I get to stop at least two muggings a week."

"I hate you so much," Bucky grumbled.

"Why did you agree to come running with me, anyway, if you don't run?" Clint asked, as they made their way towards 5th Avenue.

"Dunno," Bucky said. "Seemed like a thing to do."


"Well, you were gonna be there, I thought we could..." Bucky waved a hand. "Bond."


"Yeah. People do that. They bond."

Clint peered at him. "Is this like the bonding Steve does when he hangs out in the workshop watching Tony's butt while he mechanic-dances?"

"It might be," Bucky said with exaggerated dignity.

"We could have done that on the firing range."

"I wouldn't cheapen the experience of the firing range," Bucky told him.

"Well, I guess that's a point. Also Natasha says using the firing range as a date is weird, not that she gets to be the authority on weird," Clint sniffed.

"Anything but more running," Bucky said. "Literally anything."

"I have the new Bass Pro-Fishing game for the X-Box," Clint said.

"Is that where you pretend to fish because real fishing was just too interesting?" Bucky asked.

"I see you've been talking to Natasha. But no, because when I play Bass Pro-Fishing there are car chases involved," Clint said proudly.

"Does it involve moving?"

"Only to get another beer during cut-scenes."

Bucky considered this. "Done."

"So are we dating?" Clint asked.

"You're dating. I'm dying of exhaustion and starvation," Bucky said.

"You are such a delicate flower. Come on, run half a mile with me and I'll throw in some home fries with that steak."

"No!" Bucky cried, but Clint had already taken off, the wind in his hair and an irritated, huffing assassin at his heels.