Title: Keeping Her On Her Toes
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Sometimes Buffy forgets he's been a soldier and spy longer than she's been the Slayer. 1100 words.
Spoilers: Post-series for Buffy; no comics; post-Avengers for the Marvel Movie Universe
Notes: Sixth of eight (?) in the challengefic series. All NYC information from Wikipedia.
Buffy strolls slowly down a grass-lined path, listening to the mundane nighttime sounds around her with dissatisfaction. She hadn't been trying to flatter Tony when she'd told him he made great bait; the few vampires and demons to return to the city since the Chitauri invasion really do seem wise to the presence of a resident Slayer. No doubt when things have fully settled again there'll be plenty of dumb cannon fodder to Slay, but there's a definite mind behind the first groups back in. They're being careful to stay under the radar of the local heroes, too. That bothers her; smart vamps always mean trouble for her, one way or another.
A faint rustle somewhere above and behind her alerts her to the presence of a stalker, and she feels the corners of her mouth tug up in a grin. Finally. It's been a boring night; the near edge of the park is more than a dozen blocks from the Tower, and after even detouring by a couple of the local mega churches, she hasn't sensed even a whiff of supernatural danger. Then again, there has been more than one Slayer in Manhattan the last few days. If the bad guys know to scatter from a petite blonde, maybe they've been stalking the curvy brunette instead? She'll have to ask Faith when they finally meet up for lunch tomorrow.
She surreptitiously retrieves Mr. Pointy from his hiding spot, palming the uniquely shaped stake, and waits for her attacker to pounce. It had sounded as though he, or she, was in the nearest trees to her left; if they'd moved immediately, that would make their position-
Buffy lifts the stake, bracing to turn, her foot on the edge of the path... just as two inches past her toes, an arrow sprouts from the turf. The shaft quivers from the speed of its flight and the force of its impact, and its dark purple fletching is as good as a flag. It's a little heftier than the ones she's seen before, and definitely wood; the back end of the arrow has a nock, but it's carved into the arrow, not a plastic insert, with sharp points on either side of the notch. She can only guess they're in case the arrow gets repurposed as a stabbing weapon; she's seen Clint do that more than once, though with the arrowhead, not the reverse.
"Very funny, Barton," she says, glancing unerringly toward the SHIELD agent's perch.
"I thought so," he grins back, dropping to the earth beneath his perch. "You did say I could come along once I found some wooden arrows."
"As I see," she says dryly, irritation fading in the face of her genuine pleasure at his presence. "That didn't take you very long."
"Would have taken longer if I'd waited for Stark to finish with the holy water and silver nitrate arrowheads, but I figured I could always come back for those," he shrugs. Then he saunters over, stooping to retrieve the arrow and slip it back in the quiver.
Buffy has no doubt that the chance to check her out at close range is at least half the reason he'd aimed so near her feet; but as it just so happens to give her an equivalent opportunity, she obligingly stands her ground. Her stomach does a flip at the sight of him crouching in front of her- and it's hard to miss the way his gaze lingers as he stands back up, tracing every line of her body.
Her breath hitches a little; even without the influence of adrenaline, he's pretty distracting. And distractingly pretty. Why did the sole romantically available Avenger have to be so pretty?
"Give him a week, he'll probably have rocket propelled stakes in production," she says, rolling her eyes as she drags her mind back out of the gutter. "We might have to set a trap to get best use from your bow, but there's like nine thousand benches and more than twice that many trees, so there should be plenty of time after we locate a target."
Clint chuckles, the sound sending a shiver along her nerves. "You get those statistics from JARVIS? There's a few dozen bridges and arches, too, twenty-one playgrounds, and seven bodies of water. It's a big place. Not as many unexplained deaths as you might think, though. Got any ideas where would be the best place to start?"
"More like when; the park's supposed to close at one, right? There'll be less prey around after that, but fewer witnesses too, and they've been pretty cautious lately. I've patrolled most of the blocks around the tower several times, and the most I ever found in one night was when I took Tony along as bait. And I'm afraid as tasty as you are... " she eyes him again, smirking, "...you just don't look the part."
Even in jeans and hoodie rather than his sleeveless Hawkeye uniform, the breadth of his shoulders and the quiver slung over his back are a little much to overlook. This isn't Sunnydale, land of ostriches and gangs on PCP, after all.
He smirks back, changing the subject. "The park officials know you're here?"
"I'm not doing my job if the mundane authorities know I'm coming," Buffy shrugs. "You would not believe how many demons work in civil service- or get their bribe on."
"Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea," Clint replies.
There's a hint of bitterness in the curve of his smile, now; sometimes she forgets he's been a soldier and spy longer than she's been the Slayer. But it fades again as he paces along at her side, bow held casually in one hand. "Nah; I wouldn't be doing my job right if I got caught. Just curious."
"Uh huh," she says, feeling that swoop in her stomach again. "So how fast do you run? Just curious."
"That depends," he replies, meeting her gaze with sparkling eyes. "How far am I going to have to give chase?"
Her face warms briefly at the hint. "Ask me again after we're done?"
"I'll hold you to that," he says, brightly. Then he cocks his chin toward one of the upcoming crosspaths, smile fading as he glances down its length. "Hmm. This way?"
Buffy pauses, ignoring the tinglies produced by Clint's presence to focus on any other tinglies that might be moving near them. "...Maybe?" She isn't sure, but it feels... spookier than the other direction.
"Maybe's good enough," he decides.
Fun and games later, then. For now, it's time to hunt.