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Stars and Gripes

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“We should make an all-girl Avengers,” Kate grumbles drunkenly, stumbling over her too-high heels. “There needs to be an all-girl Avengers.”

“Pretty sure Misty Knight already has a team of those,” America replies, somewhat amused. Kate had slung an arm around her with a friendly smile as they left the club, but she thinks Kate probably just wants the extra balance. That girl has got a lesson or two to learn about sensible footwear.

“Yeah, but they’re Defenders. That’s like – like the X-Men. The main team. I think. Aren’t they all women?” Kate says, throwing her free hand around as she speaks.

America shrugs.

“But,” Kate holds up a finger, “but my point is, there isn’t an all-girl Avengers team. There’s the Avengers Avengers, and the New Avengers, the Old Avengers, the Avengers Unity Squad thing, the Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-and-some-Avengers, the Not-So-Secret Avengers—“

“The Not-So-Secret Avengers?” America raises an eyebrow.

“Clint’s a terrible liar. He disappears, comes back, says he was at the gym. He doesn’t go to the gym,” she huffs. “I don’t go to the gym.”

“You’re pretty cut for a girl who doesn’t go to the gym,” America can’t help but point out.

“Yoga,” Kate says. “But, seriously, why isn’t there an all-girl Avengers team?” She trips over a crack in the sidewalk and America catches her around the waist.

“Maybe you should bring that up with Captain America,” America says. “I think he’s in charge of that kind of thing.”

“More like Captain Marvel,” Kate sighs. “Cap won’t agree to anything unless Tony Stark knows about it and opposes it.”

“Well, seeing how you make him sound like a misogynistic asshole, getting him to oppose an all-female Avengers shouldn’t be hard,” America can’t help but point out.

“Womanizer,” Kate corrects cheerfully, then, for the love of god, starts singing. Superstar, where you from, how’s it going—“

“Okay, princess,” America sighs, stopping them right there on the sidewalk. “Let’s get you home.”

“What are you –“ Kate bursts into giggles as America sweeps her off her feet and into a bridal carry. The star-shaped portal she’d made on the sidewalk shatters as she kicks it in with her designer red, white, and blue spangled sneakers (A gift from Kate, obviously).

“Hey, hey,” Kate says. “You didn’t have anything to drink, did you? I don’t want to end up stuck in 3490 again.“

“Nah,” America says as she enters the portal back to 616 to fly Kate back to her NYC apartment. “I’m the designated flyer.”

*

America wakes up on Kate’s lavender-colored couch to the smell of pancakes. She throws the blanket off her and sits up, yawning and stretching.

“Morning,” Kate says cheerfully from the kitchenette. “Do you have a coffee preference? I have hazelnut, cinnamon bun, French vanilla, pumpkin spice, raspberry mocha, caramel…”

“Don’t you have regular coffee, chica?” America asks. She roots though her backpack, searching for clean clothes to change into. Kate makes a face.

“Fine,” Kate sighs, rooting through her drawer and plugging a pod into her fancy-ass coffee maker. Pfft, America thinks, rich people. “Hey, any reason why I don’t have a hangover?” she asks curiously.

“It’s Nightclub World,” America answers vaguely, “no one gets a hangover.” She squints at a t-shirt, then sniffs it. It smells clean. “Can I use your shower?” she asks.

“You don’t have to ask,” Kate says.  She flips a pancake distractedly and nearly misses the pan. “If you need to borrow any of my clothes, feel free.”

“Thanks,” America says. She doubts any of Kate’s stuff will fit her, but she means well.

Ten minutes later, wearing a pair of high-waisted shorts she’s only worn once this week, and a sweater that’s the very definition of oversized on Kate but fits America perfectly, she sits down at the breakfast table.

“What’s with the hotcakes?” America says, picking up a fork as Kate proudly serves up her blueberry pancakes. Usually, she offers America a bowl of cereal when she sleeps over.

“It’s a thank you,” Kate says with a smile. “For, y’know, taking me out and stuff.” As soon as she says it, she ducks her head and turns away to grab the coffee.

“The shoes were thank you enough,” America says, raising an eyebrow as Kate sets a mug of coffee in front of her. “And the sunglasses. And the StarkPhone.”

Kate shrugs nonchalantly. “Those were other thank-you’s,” she says, waving a hand dismissively. America bites back a sigh. She’s gotta admit, though, those gifts were different.

“You don’t have to buy me stuff,” America says again, wondering if it’ll sink in this time.

“I know,” Kate says. “That’s why I made you breakfast.”

*

 “Come on, come on, come on—“

“No! Don’t you dare!”

“I do dare. I totally dare. I’m gonna kick your ass.”

“Not if I kick your ass first.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

“Yeah? Well, I – DID YOU FUTZIN’ BLUE SHELL ME?”

“So I did, Princess Peach,” America cackles as Bowser accelerates past Kate and into first place.

“Oh, now it’s so on,” Kate growls. She slams her fingers down on the buttons of the MarioKart wheel. “There’s still one lap left. You’re going down.”

“Oh, really?” America snorts.

“Yes, really,” Kate sniffs. “How about – how about we make this interesting,” she says.

“Keep talkin’,” America says as she leaves a nice trail of bananas behind her in the video game.

“The loser has to…has to…prank call an Avenger of the winner’s choice,” she says, narrowing her eyes at the game.

“Easy. You’re on,” America snorts, slowing down.

“What are you doing?” Kate says.

“Waiting on you to catch up,” America says. “Evening out the playing field a little.” On the screen, Princess Peach finally blasts past Bowser.

“Cute,” Kate says. “I could still win.”

Could,” America laughs. “Somehow, I don’t think there’s a universe out there where you ever could.”

“There’s always this one,” Kate says smugly.

“Where are you gonna get any of the Avengers’ personal phone numbers, anyways?” America asks. She drives through an item box and grins as she receives a green shell.

“Barton,” Kate says simply. She’s squinting at the screen, the tip of her tongue sticking out of her mouth as she concentrates on the race.

They’re halfway through the race now. Kate’s in the lead, but only by a little. America briefly considers distractionary tactics, but dismisses that thought quickly. Heckling is out, Kate isn’t that gullible, and America doesn’t know if she’s ticklish.

No, she thinks. I can win this fair and square.

They turn a sharp corner, both of them neck and neck in the race, skidding until they hit the power slide turbo.

Come on, come on, come on, baby,” Kate whispers under her breath, but America can’t afford to be distracted by her right now. Bowser falls back a little, Princess Peach just ahead, and the finish line is right there – “Suck on that,” Kate says with a grin.

America nails her with a green shell.

“Nah, princess, you suck on that,” she says triumphantly as Bowser speeds past the finish line and wins first place.

“What – what the futz?!” Kate says weakly, falling backwards onto the floor. “No. Noooo.”

“Get your phone out, Bishop,” America laughs. “Captain America’s about to get the phone call of his life.”

“I hate you,” Kate says, burying her face in a pillow.

“No you don’t,” America says, still smiling.

“I do,” she says through the pillow. “Rematch? Double or nothing?”

America can’t pass up a challenge like that.

“You’re on.”

*

“Hello. Steve Rogers speaking.”

“Hello there, Captain,” Kate says in a pinched, sultry voice, pinching her nose. She accidentally catches America’s eye again and bursts into silent giggles. I hate you, she mouths. America winks at her.

“May I ask who is calling?” Captain America sounds confused, but too polite to hang up.

“No, but you may ask what I’m wearing,” Kate says in her fake accent, closing her eyes as not to break character.

“Ma’am, I think you have the wrong number,“ he replies after a moment.

“If it’s wrong,” Kate says, her accent failing a little, “then why does it feel so right?”

“I don’t—“

“Come on, gorgeous, that’s right, talk dirty to me.

“Ma’am, I don’t know how you got this number, but I think there’s been a misunderstanding. You can’t call a line like this. This is serious –“

“Has anyone ever told you how sexy you are when you’re serious?” Kate says, pitching her voice lower. “Besides Iron Man, that is.”

Captain America sighs suddenly.

“Is that who put you up to this?” he asks suddenly. “Next time – next time, I’m playing along with this game of chicken. You can tell Tony that.”

With that, he hangs up.

As Kate stares at her phone, a little shellshocked (moreso than when she’d been blue-shelled), America bursts into laughter.

Kate sets her phone aside and picks up a lilac-colored pillow.

“I hate you,” she whines, smacking America with the pillow. “That was terrible. I’m never going to be able to look Captain America in the eye again.”

“Maybe you should call him back,” America suggests with a laugh. “See if he plays along this time.”

“I will never forgive you for that,” Kate says, throwing the pillow. It bounces off America’s shoulder.

 “Is that all you got?” she says. “I could barely feel that.”

“I’ll have you feeling something,” Kate growls, sitting up and grabbing another pillow. America seizes one to defend herself and laughs as Kate tries to hit her, the pillow barely making a difference (hey, superpowers). Kate goes wild with the pillow, yelling a battle cry.

“I’m feeling a little bored, to be honest,” America says, blocking another blow with her pillow. Kate tackles America to the carpet. She lands on her back, Kate crouching over her and holding her down. Kate giggles as America blocks her with her shield-pillow.

“You’re cheating,” Kate protests when America hits her lightly with the pillow, careful not to hurt her. “You have, like, superstrength and everything.”

“And yet I still won MarioKart,” America says smugly. “Three. Times.” Kate rips away her pillow and throws it across her apartment, out of reach. America reaches for another, but Kate attempts to pin her by her wrists.

America raises an eyebrow and rolls over, flipping Kate onto her back and pinning her instead.

“Cheater,” Kate huffs, sulkily blowing hair out of her eyes.

“Don’t need superpowers to do that,” America says, then grins.

Kate smiles back. She looks America in the eye, then glances down at her lips, her intent clear. She leans upwards –

“This is such a cliché, you know,” America says.

“Yeah,” Kate says. “The floor isn’t that comfortable, either. I’m going to pull a muscle in my neck.”

“Can we sit on the couch?” America asks.

“Couch it is,” Kate says quickly. America relinquishes her victory and lets Kate get to her feet and collapse on the couch. She joins Kate, and leans forward slowly, resting a hand on Kate’s thigh for balance.

“Where were we?” she says, tilting her head to the side.

“Um,” Kate says. America stops. “I’ve, uh, never kissed a girl. Well, once. But it wasn’t – I didn’t – we weren’t –“

“You kissed an alien,” America reminds her. “It’s not much weirder than that. It’s not weird at all.”

“You’re probably right,” Kate says with a tiny smile.

“I’m always right,” America says.

Kate leans forward with new confidence, and America kisses her.

*

Knock knock knock.

Kate gently disentangles herself from America’s arms and sits up on the couch, looking at the door.

“Finally,” she huffs. “I’m starving.”

“Don’t tip ‘em too much,” America says, smoothing down her sweater.

America watches Kate with amusement as she straightens herself up and fixes her hair. She grabs her wallet on her way to the door.

“I ordered over an hour ago,” Kate snaps as she opens the door. “I hope you aren’t expecting a – Oh.”

Captain America stands outside Kate’s door, his arms crossed over his chest.

“To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from you, Miss Bishop,” he says seriously.

America falls back onto the couch, laughing her head off at the look on Kate’s face.