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Possible Cardiac Arrest

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I have made a mistake

 

There was an ellipsis as Nat typed and Clint waited for her response.

 

Is that the title of your sex tape or your autobiography?

 

Fuck you, I thought we were friends

 

Oh sry. Is that the title of your sex tape or your autobiography, asking for a friend.

 

I hate you

 

Clint locked the phone and pocketed it without waiting for a response, and then he walked into the dinky building in the dinky shopping center that was nowhere near his house and looked like it was on the verge of literal collapse at any moment. There was a shady daycare, several empty office spaces, and a small, inconspicuously marked door that said ‘A.R. Health’ in plain white letters, which was apparently his destination.

 

He was late, because of course he was. Traffic was a bitch and Clint was its bitch, per usual. No one ever expected him to be on time. Not his job, not his friends, and definitely no one he had ever dated for more than five minutes. Frankly, he was hoping they hadn’t locked the classroom doors. It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

But he also had to get this class done in the next four days or he was going to get straight up suspended, and that would be embarrassing as hell.

 

Coffee though. He’d needed the coffee.

 

Coming off a thirteen hour night shift to do an eight hour Advanced Cardiac Life Support renewal class had seemed like a good idea at the time, but here, now, in the far brighter than necessary eight a.m. sunshine, it was quite clearly one of the worst ideas he had ever had. At the time-

 

Well, Clint had been a paramedic, where twenty-four hour shifts were the norm, so staying up after a night shift in the Emergency Department hadn’t seemed like a big deal. What he’d forgot was that as a paramedic he’d been able to snatch sleep during his down time.

 

As a nurse, he didn’t have any down time.

 

Between the little old ladies with chest pain, the abdominal pain patients for whom only ‘that drug with the d’ worked, the asthmatics who couldn’t breathe, and last night’s very memorable gunshot wound in which the patient’s brother had accidentally shot her in the leg with a 22 long rifle- well. He’d had even less downtime than usual.

 

Not to mention the hour long drive in rush-hour traffic to a part of town he was neither familiar with nor had any desire to ever visit.

 

Clint was tired .

 

The quad venti with an energy shot had seemed crucially important, and the line at Starbucks had been excruciatingly long.

 

He took a sip of the hot elixir of life and decided, yep, worth it.

 

The woman at the front desk chirped cheerfully at him, directed him to a room around the corner, and Clint slunk in, hoping to go unnoticed.

 

His hopes were immediately dashed when he realized there were only five other students in the class and all eyes were on him as soon as he walked in. The instructor didn’t say anything though, just gave him a friendly smile and continued through her spiel. Clint took the empty seat nearest the door, in the back row of the classroom, and slurped his coffee as quietly as possible. All he had to do was stay awake for eight hours. He could do that. It wasn’t like he couldn’t do CPR in his sleep. Hell, he probably had done CPR in his sleep at some point in his career.

 

The instructor turned her attention to him. “You missed introductions, but give us a quick rundown of your name, what you do, and why you’re here.”

 

“Sorry,” Clint managed, feeling his face flush. “Traffic.”

 

She waved him off, but looked at him expectantly.

 

Actually, everyone was looking at him expectantly, including the guy directly in front of him - the totally hot guy with back muscles so defined Clint could just about name them underneath his thin, long-sleeved t-shirt, killer jawline, and vaguely familiar face.

 

“Uh, I’m Clint. I’m a nurse in the ED at Rosecrest. I was a paramedic for six years and I’ve been a nurse for nearly eight, and I need to renew my certification before I get suspended next week?”

 

There were a couple of snorts of laughter.

 

“So this isn’t your first time then, good.” Clint hadn’t caught the instructor’s name, but she’d already written some notes on the small whiteboard at the front of the room and he figured it was probably Ashleigh, since that’s what was in the upper corner. “I’m gonna try to keep today short.”

 

“Thank fuck,” Clint muttered into his coffee cup. A nap sounded like nirvana right about now.

 

The person to his right snickered, and Clint glanced over to see another familiar face, this time a nurse he’d gone to school with, years ago, who now, he knew, was an Nurse Practitioner, and who he’d never really liked. He gave her a jerking, upward nod of acknowledgement, and she gave him a thin smile in return, and then they both turned their attention back to the front of the room.

 

Ashleigh was running through the planned activities, reassuring them she’d skip as many of the ‘required’ videos as she could manage, there’d be a mega code, BLS check-offs for those who needed that renewal too - Clint reluctantly raised his hand, because he might as well get that nightmare over with while he was here - and then the test at the end.

 

“I think we’ll be done around two or two-thirty, if you guys cooperate and no one needs remediation.”

 

Clint prayed to the CPR gods for a quick and easy class.

 

Then there was an annoyingly loud thump and the screech of children, and Clint winced.

 

“And that is the daycare next door,” Ashleigh said, interrupting herself smoothly. “Please, if the noise bothers you in any way , feel free to mention that in the survey at the end of class. In fact, make sure you stress how distracting it was, and that the building needs soundproofing.”

 

Clint barely restrained from groaning.

 

Screaming children were not going to improve this day.

 

Hot guy turned around and looked at Clint again, giving him a kind of assessing stare that made Clint want to check a mirror to see if there was something on his face, and he wondered if he actually had groaned aloud. The guy looked so fucking familiar .

 

The instructor was now talking about the daycare’s fire drill procedures and her own children.

 

Clint pulled his phone back out.

 

Pls kill me

 

Can’t. If you won’t kill me I can’t kill you. Sorry I don’t make the rules.

 

Clint was actually fairly sure he’d made that rule when Natasha had begged him to kill her during the shift with 4 GSWs, two MIs, and the angry parent who thought her vomiting child should be given more precedence. It hadn’t been meant for the sort of mental torture he was suffering at this exact moment.

 

“Alright first video. Sorry I can’t skip this one, it’s on the test.”

 

Clint propped his chin on his hand, sipped his coffee, and considered taping his eyelids open. The ‘chain of survival’ video didn’t mean much when everyone knew that out-of-hospital resuscitation efforts only had about an eighteen percent survival rate. And that surviving didn’t mean walking out of the hospital on your own two feet. Mostly it meant permanent disability.

 

Halfway through the video a rhythmic thump-thump-thump sounded from the wall behind him, and it legitimately took him a minute to realize it was a different class practicing chest compressions and not the sound of someone getting enthusiastically railed.

 

Oh god, he needed way more coffee to deal with this.

 

Hot guy turned around to glare at the wall, his face transformed from strikingly handsome to handsomely murderous and Clint-

 

Clint shifted in his seat because it was inappropriate to be turned on by someone considering a murder spree, right?

 

There’s a sexy murder face guy in my class

 

Ho, don’t do it

 

Clearly, ‘I have made a mistake’ was the title of both his sex tape and his autobiography.

 

The thumping sound mercifully stopped, and Hot Guy stopped glaring at the wall; instead he resumed glaring at the television at the front of the room, where the movie was mercifully coming to an end. The instructor - who by this point had kicked her feet up in a chair - leaned around the podium to queue up the next video.

 

Which was Basic Life Support. Also know as basic CPR.

 

Clint’s groan this time was less silent.

 

His tablemate gave him an amused but sympathetic glance.

 

Maybe he liked her more than he remembered.

 

The video instructor told the class to carefully remove the victim’s shirt, and then locate the nipple line in order to assess where to place your hands for compressions. Clint snorted into his coffee.

 

“Grandma’s nipple line is somewhere around her belly-button, but okay,” he grumbled.

 

Hot guy turned around and flashed him a grin that legitimately made Clint’s knees weak. If murder-glare was hot, smirking Hot Guy was goddamn dynamite, holy shit. If Clint had been standing, he’d have fallen in the floor.

 

And then these idiots would have tried to resuscitate him, which would have ended badly, so overall it was good that he was sitting down.

 

Blessedly, the video ended fairly quickly.

 

The instructor got up and began passing out the same weird, flesh-tone mannequins with wide-open mouths and were just a head and torso that had been used in CPR classes since the dawn of time. She was also dropping off face masks with disposable breathing valves.

 

“Alright,” she said, as she walked around the room, dropping off limbless victims, “we’re gonna do a couple of rounds of compressions and rescue breathing, and then we’ll move on to AEDs. I’ve got four of the nice, new mannequins, and one old one I call Mike. The new ones light up when you’re hitting the right timing and compression depth, but Mike is old school and you have to push harder and listen for the click. Who wants Mike?” She gave both Clint and Hot Guy a significant look.

 

Which, fair.

 

Everyone else in the room was a woman, and one of them was visibly pregnant. Probably best to give Mike to one of the buff dudes in the back.

 

“I’ll take him,” Clint said, giving an awkward wave slash hand-raise, like he was in grade school again.

 

Ashleigh deposited Mike in front of him with something like relief.

 

She also gave Preggo a step-stool, which was nice of her, Clint figured.

 

“Alright guys, count of thirty, two rescue breaths, you know the drill. We’ll do a full two minutes and call it, and for those of you doing BLS, that’ll count as your check-off.”

 

Oh thank fuck, Clint had thought he’d have to stay late for that. He liked this girl, he might have to plan to do all his check-offs here.

 

“And…. go.”

 

The room was filled with the sound of six people doing compressions to the beat of Stayin’ Alive . Mike clicked away as Clint huffed numbers out under his breath, just like he’d been doing for years, even though there was no one around to swap him. At thirty, he leaned over, tilting the dummy’s head and using the mask to try and breath into the weird, open mouth hole of its face.

 

As usual, the air did not inflate the fake lungs. Clint had never, not even once, had a mannequin whose chest rose with rescue breaths.

 

He gave it two half-assessed attempts and then went back to compressions.

 

Two minutes went by in the same limbo it always did - entirely too fast, but also taking an exhausting eternity. Mike definitely required some extra force to click, and Clint’s shoulders were already telling him it’d been a while since he’d had to try so hard to work a chest. Usually the ribs broke in the first few crunches, and then all of it got a lot easier. Mannequin Mike didn’t have ribs, unfortunately.

 

“Time,” the instructor informed them, and Clint dropped his arms with a sigh.

 

His left hand already showed signs of bruising that was going to be livid by the end of the day if she really made them do all of the compressions ACLS typically required.

 

“Yeah yeah,” she said, when she heard the cacophony of relief that sounded throughout the room. “Chest compressions suck. We all know. We’re gonna do one more set, individually so I can check your breathing technique, and then I promise to only make you do it one more time for the megacode.”

 

Clint gave an internal cheer, and then picked his coffee up from where he’d sat it on the floor in a unprecedented burst of forethought when she’d said they were going to be doing compressions. He sat down with a sigh as Ashleigh covered the usual information on chest compression differences for adults, children, and infants, along with two rescuer CPR.

 

And then she went around the room, starting on the far side, to check technique.

 

She was merciful, Clint had to give her that. She only made everyone do one round of chest compressions - breaths - chest compressions before moving on. The pregnant lady barely managed to keep time, but Clint figured she should get a pass anyway. If it were a real code in the hospital, people would just shove her out of the way and make her record anyhow. It was the knowledge that mattered, and no one wanted to see her go into labor in a classroom.

 

Though at least there was conveniently a daycare next door.

 

Ashleigh made it to the table in front of Hot Guy, who had somehow managed to keep it all to himself, perhaps with his devastating murder glare.

 

“Alright hot-shot, let’s see what you’ve got,” Ashleigh told him, and Clint figured he must have missed something in the first ten minutes of class.

 

Then hot guy stood up and started his demonstration and Clint nearly snorted coffee up his nose.

 

Because holy shit that ass though .

 

Clint lifted his phone and pretended to text as he tried to get the best possible angle of that ass in motion.

 

Hot Guy had worn a pair of form-fitting, pocketed uniform trousers, the kind Clint remembered avidly from his days a paramedic, the ones with enough pockets to hold and entire arsenal of life-saving supplies, and Hot Guy filled them out like he was born to wear them. Clint wanted to die a little, and he was also worried he wasn’t gonna be able to do chest compressions because he had a boner.

 

It didn’t stop him from sending the picture to Nat.

 

Dat ass tho

 

She did not respond.

 

Though, to be fair, men’s asses weren’t really her forte.

 

She was more of a boobs lady, not that Clint could fault her taste. Boobs were great. He just… was an ass man, himself.

 

Hot Guy’s ass was bouncing as he cranked on his mannequin’s chest and Clint quit even pretending to look at his phone as he instead pretended to drink his coffee and look straight ahead. Which just happened to be at Hot Guy’s ass.

 

Pure coincidence, really.

 

And the more Clint watched, the more he realized…

 

He knew that ass.

 

Where did Clint know that ass from?

 

Does this ass look familiar to you?

 

There was a pause, and then ellipsis, and then a pause, and then more ellipsis, and then Natasha finally texted him back.

 

Are you fucking kidding me right now?

 

No really. Does this ass look familiar because I’m p sure I recognize it

 

Please stop texting me. I’ve changed my mind, tell me your location, I’m willing to kill you.

 

Nah, I think I wanna live. To watch this ass.

 

The instructor called time on what was the best thing Clint had ever seen outside a porno. He swallowed down his groan of disappointment along with a mouthful of cooling coffee.

 

He must have made some kind of noise, though, because Hot Guy turned around and gave Clint a smirk, like he knew he’d been putting on a show, and raised one of his eyebrows over a pair of steel grey eyes and Clint-

 

Holy shit, Clint was pretty positive this guy had railed him to within an inch of his life after a party three years ago. Clint didn’t remember his name, but he sure as fuck remembered that ass, in a pair of tight, faded jeans and he definitely remembered his cock, because he hadn’t had any underwear on under the jeans, and he’d blown him in a bathroom at a house party and then they’d gone back to Clint’s place-

 

“You ready, Mr. Late Show?”

 

And oh shit, Ashleigh was standing in front of him, waiting impatient for Clint to get the fuck with the program.

 

“Shit, yeah, sorry, I just got off. Shift! I just got off shift.”

 

She did not look impressed, but at least she didn’t look pissed off, and Clint ground out his chest compressions, head tilt-chin lift two breaths, more chest compressions with his face on fire and his pulse racing.

 

When Ashleigh moved on to the girl seated to Clint’s right, Hot Guy was still watching him, chair turned sideways and his right arm thrown over the back like a cocky asshole.

 

Of course, if he was who Clint thought he was, he had every right to be a cocky asshole, because Clint was pretty sure it had been some of the best sex of his life .

 

Maybe he could get a repeat performance.

 

Clint leaned back in his own chair and stretched, cracking his neck and showing off his biceps. He knew what his own appeal was, and it sure as hell wasn’t his verbal skills.

 

Oral, maybe.

 

Now there was a thought.

 

They had to get a lunch break eventually, right?

 

Ashleigh finished the last student, and strode back to the front of the room. Clint glanced at his watch. Ten-thirty wasn’t too early to ask about lunch, right?

 

“What’s the plan for lunch?” Clint asked, raising his hand and waiting for her to look his way.

 

“Up to you guys,” she shrugged. “Some people wanna take an hour lunch, some people want to go pick up food and come back and keep working so we can get done faster. Whatever you guys decide is fine with me, I brought my lunch.”

 

Clint opened his mouth to suggest the hour long lunch break because damn, he had an SUV with fold-down seats and tinted windows, but unfortunately three people piped up to say they wanted to work through lunch and quashed all his hopes and dreams.

 

Hot Guy was smirking even more, his eyes crinkled up at the corner like he knew exactly what Clint was thinking.

 

Well, no one had ever accused Clint Barton of being anything like subtle, so he probably did.

 

He swallowed down his protests and hunched over his mannequin, folding his arms over Mike’s chest and resting his chin on his wrists.

 

Ashleigh turned on the next video.

 

The next thing Clint knew, Hot Guy was hip checking his table and jostling him awake as they were apparently taking a break, given that everyone was standing up and organizing their shit, grabbing bags and purses and stretching out their arms and backs. According to Clint’s watch, it was 11:15.

 

Oh fuck, he’d slept through at least half an hour of instruction time.

 

Hot Guy seemed to find it amusing as hell, his eyes dancing with humor and a smile stretching across his face.

 

“Lunch?” he asked, looking down at Clint who had - thankfully- not drooled on the dummy. Which probably meant he hadn’t snored, either.

 

“Yes?” Clint said, confused. Was Hot Guy asking him to lunch or-

 

“Well you seemed awfully concerned about it earlier, I thought it might be important enough to wake you up for.”

 

“Fuck,” Clint groaned, rubbing his eyes with his fingertips, trying to erase the gritty feeling behind them. “I worked all night, this wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made.”

 

Hot Guy shrugged at him, still grinning. “Coulda been worse. Better go grab something quick, she said ten minutes.”

 

“Shit, what’s even around here?”

 

“Taco truck in the parking lot, instructor said it was good if you have cash. Burger King. Subway across the street. There’s a Starbucks, but I think you found that already.” Hot Guy gave a nod to the cup next to Clint’s elbow.

 

Yeah, Clint had clearly found the Starbucks and just as clearly should have finished the entire cup because he’d fallen asleep . Clint reached for the cup and downed the remainder of the coffee, cold though it was, and then tossed it past Hot Guy’s shoulder where it sailed directly into the trashcan.

 

“Ten points to me,” Clint muttered, standing and stretching.

 

Hot Guy was watching him, something interested in the set of his mouth and the way he looked over Clint’s body, but then he glanced at his watch. “Okay, I gotta go, I don’t have cash, so parking lot tacos are out for me. Gonna drive to the Burger King.”

 

Clint bit back his disappointment.

 

Also, parking lot tacos sounded fucking amazing, if he was being honest.

 

Outside the sun was blazing , making Clint squint and curse even behind his sunglasses. The taco truck was across the parking lot, bright orange with a flashing neon “open” sign in the window. Clint trudged over, cursing the heat and the sunshine and his general ability to make terrible decisions.

 

Tacos in hand, along with a glass bottle of Coke that tasted like childhood, Clint made his way back to the building, slumping down in his chair and inhaling the scent of cooked meat and spices. The tacos smelled amazing, at least. He dumped red salsa on one and green salsa on the other and put the first one in his mouth.

 

Oh god .

 

This might be worth missing out on the opportunity to blow Hot Guy in his car.

 

The tacos were fucking stellar .

 

Hot Guy came back with a sad paper sack, and Clint held out the third taco he’d ordered, still wrapped in white wax paper, along with the containers of salsa, which was hot enough to make his nose run, just the way he liked it. Hot Guy gave him a confused look, and didn’t reach to take the food from Clint.

 

“Oh man,” Clint said, once he’d swallowed the food in his mouth, “you gotta try these. I ordered an extra one for you, take it. They’re totally worth it.”

 

Hot Guy shook fries out onto Clint’s empty wax paper in exchange before taking the taco. He stuck his pinky in each sauce to taste them, then poured the green salsa generously over the taco and stuffing the end of it in his mouth.

 

He made a downright pornographic noise.

 

The boner Clint had been keeping at bay with exhaustion and chest compressions returned with a vengeance.

 

They were the only two people in the room.

 

Clint was just opening his mouth to ask- what he didn’t know. Hey do you remember a house party three years ago where you banged my brains out? when the instructor came in the room through the second door, and then two of the women tumbled in, laughing, with matching bags from Subway.

 

Clint sighed.

 

The universe was conspiring against him.

 

They wasted time while they were eating, telling horrible work stories, and then the instructor managed to offend the nurse next to Clint by pointing out that out-of-hospital codes were run more efficiently than in-hospital ones, a point Clint couldn’t argue with.

 

“There’s too many people in the hospital,” Clint finally broke in to say. “You always have twenty fucking people in the room and ten of them are standing around doing nothing and the other ten can’t decide what their job actually is so everyone is trying to do everything. In the field, there’s only two or three of you unless the fire department shows up and forms a conga line of compressions. It’s easier to delineate jobs, there’s less confusion, and there’s less people unless bystanders get in the way.”

 

The nurse - fuck what was her name? Britney? - gave him a dirty look, like Clint had betrayed their entire profession. But he’d been a paramedic before he’d been a nurse, and he was trying to get into the Life Flight program at the big trauma center hospital downtown, so this was a hill he was willing to die on.

 

“And that’s a nice segue into our next section - professional communication.”

 

Clint groaned. Out loud.

 

The communication videos were just as awful as he remembered, all unrealistic ways of talking. First they showed a ‘bad’ communication video, which looked just like every code he’d ever been in at the hospital, and then a ‘good’ one, which was a terrible approximation of how people talked to each other.

 

“The team leader should call people by their name and, if possible, make eye contact.”

 

“Speak in a tone of voice that is loud enough to understand but is also calm and confident.”

 

“All team members should display respect for each other regardless of their personal experiences.”

 

Real life codes didn’t work that way, even in the field where, as Clint had argued, they ran more efficiently because roles were divvied up before they ever reached the scene so everyone knew his or her job. Codes were high-stress environment, which meant tempers were short and patience was shorter. That’s just how it was - no one took it personally. And if they did, they probably weren’t in the right field to begin with.

 

“Okay guys, now we’re going to role play-”

 

Clint’s head shot up and he blanched at the instructor.

 

Everyone was wearing similar looks of horror.

 

The chest compressions started up again next door, and it still sounded like someone getting absolutely pounded. Some distant part of Clint’s brain absently wondered if Hot Guy had fucked him to the rhythm of Stayin’ Alive.

 

God he was way too sleep deprived for this.

 

“Just kidding,” Ashleigh said, grinning. “You should see your faces. We are gonna do AEDs though.” She held up a red zippered case.

 

AEDs sucked, in Clint’s opinion. Everyone had to learn them in ACLS, but in the hospital they used a completely different type of machine, and the back of the truck had had something else entirely, and no two models of AED were exactly alike.

 

“AEDs are meant for bystanders,” Ashleigh continued as she unzipped the case and pulled out the pieces. “Which means that when you use one, it’s incredibly slow and annoying. They’re what we in the business like to call ‘fireman proof’.” Hot Guy gave a disbelieving snort, which Clint took to mean that Hot Guy was a firefighter, and Ashleigh grinned at him. “New American Heart Association guidelines for health care providers - that’s you guys - are that you should continue chest compressions during the AED’s charge, even though the AED instructs you to stand clear. That instruction is for bystanders. We’re going to practice it today, and this is going to be part of our megacode. Pair yourselves off like grown ups, one of you can start compressions and the other can go get the AED, and then we’ll swap.”

 

Hot Guy turned around and met Clint’s eyes with a questioning uplifted eyebrow and Clint nodded back at him.

 

Awesome. He had a partner he theoretically didn’t hate and the potential to make sweet, sweet small talk.

 

Ashleigh passed AEDs around the room, stopping between Clint and Hot Guy. “I assume the Bicep Brigade is partnering up.”

 

Clint snorted a laugh, but he flexed at her, just to be an asshole. “Sure,” he said. “If that’s what we’re calling it.”

 

She rolled her eyes and dropped the AED on Hot Guy’s table before moving on. Clint climbed out of his seat with a groan and took the three steps required to put him at Hot Guy’s table. “I’m Clint,” he said, leaning against the edge of the table and crossing his arms, trying to look friendly and affable.

 

“I heard,” Hot Guy said, a little bit sarcastically. “I’m Bucky.”

 

And yeah, that name kind of rang a bell. Clint had a hard time believing that he could have forgotten a name like ‘Bucky’, but there had been a lot of alcohol involved, and it had been three years ago.

 

“Hey, listen-” he started to say, started to man up and ask, but then Ashleigh was talking again.

 

“Okay one of you is going to do CPR and the other one is going to wait two compression cycles to bring the AED, attach it, and follow the instructions. Then we’ll swap. Try to get it right on the first try guys, so we can all get out of here on time.”

 

Clint laughed. “You wanna go first or?”

 

“Yeah, fine,” Bucky said, standing up and stretching and damn , Bicep Brigade wasn’t wrong .

 

Ashleigh called time and Bucky did the annoying thing they always make you do, where you tap the mannequin and shout at it like you would a real person, which no one would ever do in real life, and then initiate compressions.

 

The view from the front was almost as good as the view from the back, Clint thought, consideringly. Bucky’s arms were corded with muscle and and he looked fierce as he concentrated on keeping time and compressing the chest far enough to make the light turn green. He counted his compressions out the same way Clint did, under his breath in little huffs of air. Clint let him get all the way to twenty on his second set before he tossed the AED on the table.

 

“AED’s here,” he said, doing his best to sound excited instead of bored.

 

Bucky raised and eyebrow at him but kept up his pace.

 

Clint unzipped the bag, turned the fucking thing on because god knew that the damn AEDs lost their shit if you plugged the pads in before you turned the machine on - a lesson that he’d learned the hard way time and time again in these classes. He slapped the pads on the mannequin and waited for the mechanical robo-voice of the machine to tell them what to do.

 

“Analyzing. Patient. Stand. Clear.”

 

Clint waved his arms over the dummy like an air traffic controller, and Bucky stepped back, looking amused.

 

“Shock. Advised. Do not. Touch. The Patient. Charging.”

 

Bucky resumed compressions.

 

Oh ho ho, someone had been paying attention.

 

“Administer. Shock.”

 

Bucky stood back without any prompting, and Clint pressed the button on the fake AED that indicated it was shocking.

 

“Shock. Delivered. Resume. Compressions.”

 

Clint hip-checked Bucky out of the way to take his turn on the dummy’s chest.

 

Ashleigh called time. “Okay, swap.”

 

Clint rolled his shoulders and waited for her to tell them to start, and then they ran through the spiel for a second time. Except that when it was Bucky’s turn to apply the AED, he plugged the pads into the machine before he turned it on.

 

“Better unplug that,” Clint told him, huffing out between compressions. “It’s gonna give you an error if you turn it on while it’s plugged in.”

 

Sighing in frustration, Bucky pulled the yellow plug out of the port, and then turned the machine on. He slapped the pads on the dummy, and they repeated the same process as before, Clint standing back, then compressing, then standing back again before they ‘shocked’ the dummy.

 

“Alright, good,” Ashleigh announced, when they were all finished. “Congratulations, you all passed. Now we’re going to do a mock code, then tests. You can leave as soon as you’re finished with the exam. BLS people, don’t forget to double check your email address so you get your cards.”

 

Clint moved back to his seat.

 

Mock codes were always his favorite part of the ACLS classes, if he were being honest. They got to stand around a fake coding patient and run the code like they knew what the fuck they were doing, and like there wouldn’t be a doctor around to write orders and ignore the ACLS protocols altogether. One of the docs at his job always wanted to push calcium, which hadn’t been in the algorithm in at least ten years, and another one always gave magnesium. Clint, personally, always felt like a little bicarb wouldn’t go amiss, but that wasn’t in the algorithm either.

 

Regardless, it was fun to be the boss of an imaginary code.

 

“Okay, so instead of spending an hour around a mannequin, we’re just going to run through a scenario in your groups.”

 

Aw, scenario, no.

 

Clint sighed. That wasn’t any fun at all.

 

Bucky gave him another significant look, though, and Clint perked up. He revised his opinion to ‘potentially fun’, and settled in to wait their turn.

 

Ashleigh was just making shit up, Clint realized about halfway into the first scenario, which was for Preggo and her partner. Ashleigh clearly liked to fuck with people, and Clint honestly just enjoyed watching them flounder.

 

When it came to their turn, though, Clint was pretty proud to say they didn’t flounder.

 

Much.

 

Except for when he asked for labs and Ashleigh told him the lab was on fire so he wouldn’t be getting any results.

 

“Why do you guys always do this?” Clint said, despairing. “Every class, there are no lab results. What do you have against labs?”

 

“There’s no lab in the field,” she said, smirking.

 

“In the field I’m not a nurse ,” he insisted. “I’m gonna do chest compressions, and hope for the best. I’m not even gonna do breaths because herpes is forever .”

 

Bucky choked on a laugh.

 

Ashleigh rolled her eyes, but conceded his point by telling him the potassium levels were critically high.

 

“Okay, so insulin, glucose, calcium, consult nephrology, keep a defib nearby. Mannequin Mike lives!”

 

“You know what,” Ashleigh said, rubbing her temples, “I’m gonna let you have that, because it’s accurate, even though it’s not correct to AHA standards. Let’s just take the test and get out of here.”

 

Clint barely managed to contain a whoop of joy.

 

Ashleigh pulled out the same familiar red folders that Clint saw at every renewal class, handing them out along with the fill-in bubble answer sheets. The tests didn’t change much over the years, just got updated occasionally with new information, and Clint breezed through his as usual. For all that he seemed flippant in class, he actually did know his shit pretty well and he was, as usual, the first person done.

 

In fact, Ashleigh seemed surprised when Clint handed his folder in, and she seemed even more surprised when he only missed one question.

 

Take that, snotty nurse practitioners.

 

She confirmed his email address and name, assured him his card would be emailed to him, which was new, and ushered him out the door. It was barely 2:00, when Clint had expected to be stuck here until 5:00, and it was bright, sunny, and beautiful outside.

 

He wondered how creepy it would be to wait around and see if Bucky was done soon.

 

Probably a little creepy.

 

But Clint was tired, and it wasn’t super creepy to take a twenty minute power nap in his car before he drove home, right?

 

Right.

 

Done! Finished first and only missed one. Fuck NPs.

 

Clint settled into the driver’s seat of his SUV, reclining it back and cranking the AC. His phone buzzed with a response just as he was making himself comfortable on a wadded-up jacket.

 

Rude.

 

Oh. Right. Nat was starting school in the fall.

 

Fuck all NPs except you, my bestest best friend

 

You’re an idiot. Drive home safe.

 

Gonna nap first

 

You’re waiting on the ass guy, aren’t you?

 

Clint did not respond. It was unfair how well she knew him. He settled against his jacket, arms folded, and fell almost immediately to sleep.

 

He woke up to someone tapping gently on the glass by his face.

 

“Whassat?” Clint slurred, scrubbing at his eyes and sitting up.

 

Bucky was standing on the other side of the glass, smirking at him.

 

Glancing at the clock, Clint found he had been asleep for almost an hour. He rolled the window down, letting in the warm, spring air. Bucky leaned against the edge of the window, folding his arms and looking Clint over speculatively.

 

“Steve Rogers’ birthday party, 2015,” he said, and immediately all of the pieces fell into place.

 

Nat had dragged him to the party, because she’d been busy trying to get into Rogers’ pants, and it had been the guy’s birthday and--

 

Actually, Clint didn’t even know if Nat had managed to fuck him or not, because he’d got distracted by the beautiful best friend and then they’d disappeared together. Clint’s only interaction with Nat later had been to do their usual ‘Not dead, just hungover’ post-mortem text messages.

 

“Yeah,” Clint agreed, grinning. “Yeah, that was me. I was wondering if you remembered.”

 

Bucky shrugged. “I, uh, I had a work-related accident not long after, my memories are kinda for shit, but I was pretty sure it was you.”

 

“I was unforgettable, huh?” Clint couldn’t help the cocky grin on his face, couldn’t help the way he leaned a little further into Bucky’s space.

 

Bucky rolled his eyes. “Might have to get a do-over, just to confirm. Jog my memory.”

 

Clint laughed. “Sure. A do-over. Whatever you say. I mostly remembered you by your ass, if we’re being honest. I wouldn’t mind confirming it’s just as good as I remember.”

 

“Oh my god,” Bucky said, dropping his face into his hands. “Why do I even like you?”

 

“But you do like me,” Clint said, feeling almost giddy between the sleep deprivation and the knowledge that Bucky was interested in him.

 

“Apparently,” Bucky answered, sounding long-suffering, but still smiling. “Let me take you to dinner, and we’ll see about reaffirming your appreciation of my ass.”