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Bullseye

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It’s the darts that does it. They’re out at a bar, celebrating the fact that Billy finally got a fake ID and Kate finally doesn’t need one, and Kate can seriously never resist a dart board.

America is reluctant to join her, and once she finally does, it’s pretty clear why.

“At first I thought she must have been trying to hustle you!” Teddy is telling Kate way too loudly “I mean, we know she’s got great aim, it doesn’t make sense for her to be this bad.”

America turns to Billy and asks, conversationally, “You boy does know I could end him, right?”

Billy raises his eyebrows, but grabs Teddy’s arm gamely and tugs him off to the jukebox.

The next day, Kate decides she’s going to teach America how to shoot a bow.

“Hey, that was kind of okay!” Kate says.

America walks down the length of the range to retrieve the arrow from the place where it’s sticking out of the target, somewhere left of center. “No need to sound so surprised, princess,” she calls back, looking down at the arrow she’s just pulled free.

“No, I mean it,” Kate barrels on, “I’ve seen beginners shoot before, and it can get pretty ugly, my friend. But you, you picked up the stance pretty quick, and it’s not like you needed to build up your arm strength, and you’re already pretty in touch with your body…”

As she’s speaking, America is stepping up to face the target again, stepping into the stance, aiming. Kate trails off as she releases her arm, so they can watch the arrow fly in silence. It comes up about an inch off from where the last one hit, but not much closer to the center.

Still, “Not bad, Chavez,” Kate says approvingly.

America sighs, though, and asks, “Not so good, though, either, right?”

“Well, no,” Kate says, grin off-center, hand on her hip, “But you can’t go getting too good anyway, right? Or you guys wouldn't need me anymore.”

America snorts. “Don’t be stupid, chica, it’s not a good look for you.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was almost a compliment.” Kate’s smile grows wider, delighted and a little bit assholeish, a Clint Barton grin, essentially. America shifts on her feet uncomfortably.

“Okay, here, let’s try again,” Kate says. “Grab another arrow. Now, what you’ve been doing is good—your form’s not bad for a beginner, and you’ve got pretty good aim as a general thing, it’s just that those two things aren’t lining up right yet, right?”

America nods, looking thoughtful, and Kate steps closer. “Okay, now draw and hold it, let me see you.”

America does, and the way Kate looks her over is different from before—it’s measured, considering, the way she looks at a fight before yelling out a plan and leaping in. America shivers and hopes it doesn't show.

“Okay, here,” Kate says, stepping forward and putting a hand on America’s mid-back, just above where the hooks of her bra clasp, “You’re going to want to feel it here,” she says, voice close, just below America’s ear, two finger tapping America’s tensed, bent elbow. “Relax now, then draw and try again, make it one motion and—Clint said once, and I'd never heard anyone describe it before, so I remembered, he said there’s this moment,” her voice is low and soft and quick now, as America lets the bowstring relax, drops her arm, takes a breath and listens, “When you draw, and the wire tenses, and once you feel it tense, your back muscles tighten and lock, and you slow your breathing, exhale, and just as you relax your hand to let that arrow go, right then, in that moment, no matter what other shit show is going on all around you, in that moment, you’re perfect.”

America turns her head, just the tiniest bit, because the littlest motion is all she needs to look Kate in the eye, she’s standing so close. “And where in all that perfect are you supposed to aim?”

Kate opens her mouth into a single, soundless laugh and America can hear the breath as is leaves her. “That part’s got to be automatic, I guess. You don’t think about it, you feel it.” She steps back. “Now you try.”

America nods and takes a deep breath, then swings the bow up again. She can feel the place where Kate touched her back, you’re going to want to feel it here, and it’s true, she draws and the wire tenses and so does she. Slow your breathing, exhale, relax your hand.

The arrow flies.

America blinks, and then looks at the target the arrow is buried in. It’s not dead-center, or anything, but it is significantly closer than it was before. As signs go, it’ll have to do. She turns to Kate, who is grinning again, hands on her hips, and asks, “Do I have to make it dead-center before you’ll kiss me?” America doesn’t generally object to being the one who initiates the kissing, but this whole afternoon has been Kate’s idea, and America is willing to play by her rules. Plus, it always feels like it’s somehow bad form to make the first move with thought-they-were-straight girls.

Kate’s still smiling, but there’s a bit of a bemused edge to it now.

“I wasn’t trying to seduce you with arrows, Chavez,” she says. “I mean, if it worked, I’m not complaining, though Clint’s never going to let me live it down, but I don’t have a master plan, here. I just thought it might be fun.”

That’s not what America was expecting, but she can work with it. She sets the bow down carefully—she has a sense that not respecting the bow would end this thing before it even begins—and steps forward.

“For the record, seducing me with weaponry pretty much always works, Princess,” she says, letting her voice go low and a little dangerous.

Kate’s eyelashes flutter. “I’ll keep it in mind,” she says, but her voice sounds a little shaky.

Kate leans in, and America can feel her back muscles tensing as her breathing slows and she exhales and—in that moment, you’re perfect—Kate kisses her.