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Carnival Day

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Clint carefully lined the sight with the target. He had one shot and he needed to do this for Phil.

“Take the shot, Clint,” He heard Phil’s voice urging him on. He ignored him and tried to align the sight just right. This was a tricky shot and the last time he tried a shot like this was back when he was still in the circus. “Clint, do it now,” Phil’s voice sounded urgent and Clint knew, it was now or never.

He pulled the trigger.

The rubber duck fell over the shelf, much to the booth-attendant’s surprise. Clint grinned at the man and pointed at the giant Penguin hanging on the corner of the booth. “I’d like that one, please.” 

The sound of the rickety rides, screaming children, and annoyingly loud cheery music drowned out the grumble the booth-attendant was making as he reached up to grab the stuffed penguin. Phil scoffed and rolled his eyes at Barton’s antics. 

It had originally been Phil’s idea to go to the carnival for their date and Clint had been against it at first claiming that carnivals and circus are filled with rides, shows, and games that trick you out of your money before his eyes sparkled with mischief and realized that he could probably beat all their games in a day even with the traps and tricks.

And so, now, Phil was walking around the carnival holding two ridiculously giant stuffed animals, a beanie that looked like a panda, and cotton candy. 

“Phil, let’s go do ring toss next.” Clint told him excitedly, carrying a pink teddy bear in one arm and a stuffed toy snake around his neck that he wore like a boa.

“Let me guess, you know how those work too?” Phil said, his tone deadpan but his eyes amused.

“Yeah, the rings are usually just a tiny bit larger than the neck of the bottle so it’ll only fit at certain angles. Plus, the rings are usually hard plastic so it bounces rather than just fall,” Clint explained, making their way towards the ring toss booth. “My technique is using the ring’s bounciness to my advantage. I’ll make it bounce from one bottle to another bottle, forcing it to fall at just the right angle to fit the neck. It’ll be tricky but not impossible.” 

“I bet you ten bucks you can’t do it on the first try.” Phil raised an eyebrow in challenge. 

Clint laughed, “Oh, Phil, I love you but you are going to lose that bet.”

Phil hummed, “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?”

Clint’s eyes narrowed, “Race you,” He said before running off to the ring toss booth. 

It was a close race, but Clint still won – Phil reasoned that he was carrying two overstuffed animals and Clint tutted him silent as he paid the booth-attendant a dollar for three rings. Clint, of course, won that bet and handed Phil a stuffed toy that looked like Waddles the Pig with a satisfied smirk and an eyebrow waggle.

“Okay, my turn,” Phil dumped the toys back to Clint and paid the grouchy booth-attendant a dollar. He was about to throw his first ring when his phone vibrated in his pocket insistently. “This is Phil.” He answered his personal phone and turned to Clint – who still had an armful of stuffed animals and cannot take a call. “He’s right here, hang on.” Phil said and pressed the phone to Clint’s ear. 

“Yes, what? Shut up, Tony. You’re not going to go broke trying to beat a carnival game. No, just- Oh my god, shut up. No. Listen to me. You physically cannot beat that game. The bottom pins are likely filled with sand or lead – something heavy – and the ball is probably made out of cork. Have someone with bigger arms throw the ball. Steve, or Thor. Also, if you see Natasha and Bruce, tell them to stop playing at the Duck Pond booth. Ninety-nine out of a hundred ducks in that tub are marked slum, so they might as well- what? oh, good for him then. Yeah. yeah, okay. I gotta go. Phil wants to play ring toss. Yeah, I’ll see you guys later.”

Phil pocketed his phone, “I take it Bruce won at the Duck Pond?” He asked.

“Yeah, he got the oversized duck. Natasha is miffed that she only got a keychain duck and Bruce refuses to trade.” Clint explained. 

“I doubt Bruce will ever trade that duck. He was staring really hard at it since we got here.”

“That’s true, I guess Natasha should just find another game to beat.” 

“Speaking of beating games, I have a ring to toss. Show you how it’s done and all that.” Phil said in a smug tone.

Phil can disarm a bomb, negotiate with known terrorists, fire every weapon in SHIELD’s arsenal, pilot three of the most complex vessels in SHIELD’s garage, kill a man with a paperclip, and find an antidote for a poison that no one has heard of before.

Phil is a very skilled man with multiple talents, but apparently winning at ring toss wasn’t one of them. That much was clear when, even on his third try, he couldn’t get a single ring in. 

Clint’s sides hurt from laughing when Phil handed the attendant a fourth dollar.