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"Are you actually trying to shoot that thing, or is this a test to see how every Stark Security Officer within range responds to a dangerous civilian?"

"Ha, ha. Hilarious, Agent Hell, don't quit your day job. I already sent Officer Gropey off crying and I'm not above doing it again. Though I doubt you'd respond quite so beautifully to being kneed in the crotch. Next time you set him up to 'train'," the air quotes were obvious even if only Darcy's eyes shifted away from the shooting alley, "someone with cleavage, tell him to keep his damn eyes out of her shirt and his hands to himself."

With effort, Maria Hill managed to swallow her amusement, though the twitters of several nearby officers showed their lack of control. She might be a suit now, but a glare shaped them up and the room was once more awash with the noise of fired rounds. Darcy Lewis was a strange enigma, brash and mouthy and friends with the Avengers, so she carried a weight out of proportion to her actual station.

Hence making a nuisance of herself with a gun amidst trained officers, many of which were every inch as dangerous as many of her former SHIELD coworkers had been. Some were her former SHIELD coworkers.

It was also how the young woman managed to sit in on many of the Avengers meetings tapping away at her StarkTablet, and mother-henning Earth's greatest heroes incessantly. It was annoying, but the girl refused to respect authority or intimidation and was strangely endearing about it. Luckily, it turned out she took impressively accurate notes in between bouts of Fruit Ninja and had an impressive grip on the weird and arcane thanks to Jane Foster. It had earned her a small salary from Stark Industries, but apparently someone wanted her to learn to shoot a real gun as well.

Wonderful.

Abruptly, the range emptied out and silence fell, leaving the two women alone. Leaning back against the wall behind her, Maria stretched her legs out, ankles crossed, and continued to watch.

"Y'know, you can't actually burn holes in my spine with your eyes, Agent Hell. Nor can you control or even read my mind. I know, I asked. A girl likes to know whasup when surrounded by loveable freaks."

With the privacy of the empty room sans Darcy, who had her back turned, Maria briefly indulged in a grin before schooling her expression to neutrality once more. "Your stance sucks."

That earned a turn of the head and a glare out of the corner of smoky blue eyes, but Darcy did not turn away from the shooting alley and the grip on her pistol remained sure even as she lowered it. That the gun remained safely pointed away from any potential soft targets won points with Maria. A quirk of a smile flashed over Darcy's face and she carefully set the safety and lay the pistol down on the counter before turning around fully. Leaning back, arms crossed, she was the very picture of insolence. "Big talk, badass."

Was she flirting?

Never the sort to back down from a dare and, frankly bored with her new civilian life, Maria sinuously climbed to her feet and sashayed over to place her feet in among Darcy's. A breath away from their bodies touching, she smiled slowly, though there was a bit too much tooth for the expression to be entirely friendly.

"Turn around."

Startled, Darcy realized that Maria had the pistol in her hand. When had she reached around her smaller body and grabbed it?

"Hey! No fair! I get ninjaed enough by Cap's pet assassins!"

Maria paused in her examining of the gun and gave Darcy a nonplussed look. "Do you really call them that?"

"Duh. Clint's easy if you can make him laugh and Natasha gave up trying to get me to shut up months ago. And I totally cracked her a couple times. Her eyes get all green and soft when she's amused. It's adorable."

Romanoff and adorable in same sentence shorted out Maria's brain for a moment, but she shook it off. Clearly, the Sass Master had some weird superpower and should be studied. Then again, that might be why Stark let her stick around and even paid her to do so. That and she was the only one who could seem to keep tabs on Foster, and that included Thor.

"Turn. You are nowhere near learning to shoot over your shoulder. And you damn well better not try and knee me. Despite what you said about Officer Gropey, there is some hands on required to get this right."

"Like learning to play pool. Just not as foreplay."

"Exactly. Though it can work for that too."

It was Darcy's turn to smirk, but she also did as she was told, twitching as Maria pressed into her back. Strong arms tucked under hers-- Darcy inanely though the pose had to be hell on the taller woman's knees-- and the gun was carefully arranged in her small hands. "Now, remember how the gun feels in your hands. Every time you raise it, strive for this feeling. It will give you control of the gun and minimize the chance of hurting yourself or the wrong target."

Darcy didn't think it was at all fair that the impromptu lesson was suddenly unbearably sexy. That soft voice nearly in her ear, the press of the strong, wiry body at her back. Really, she needed to find different work, something not so riddled with sexy badasses.

"Okay."

Maria's hands slid away from cupping hers, pushing her outstretched arms up a bit and tapping one foot to hers.

"Don't lock your arms, they're your shock absorbers and square up your feet with your shoulders. Your posture is good and that will also help absorb the kick."

"Not exactly a battle pose."

A tweak in the ribs nearly made Darcy fire the gun wildly and those strong hands settling lightly on her hips really didn't really help any.

"You're not an Avenger yet, Sassy. Now concentrate."

Several snarky responses flash-fired through Darcy's mind, but she uncharacteristically kept her mouth shut. Curiosity could outweigh sass given the right circumstances.

"Clear your mind as best you can, take a deep breath and as you let it out nice and slow, take the shot."

It wasn't a pretty shot, but it landed at the edge of the target area and that was more than Darcy was accustomed to.

"Awesome!" she crowed, taking a moment to bask in the accomplishment. Before she could relax her stance, Maria prodded her bossily.

"Don't get cocky, you still have half a clip in here. Concentrate."

"Maybe if you got your tits out of my back, I could."

Finally, Maria laughed and Darcy smiled smugly to herself. With a pat to the hips, the taller woman backed off and Darcy forced herself to remember where to put her hands on the gun, where to put arms and feet and where to place her intent gaze to maximize the chances of the shots being good ones.

"Not bad," Maria acknowledged after Darcy carefully set down the empty gun and turned around again. "Your clustering needs work."

Rolling her eyes expressively, Darcy huffed out a mockingly petulant sigh and basked in the smile playing around Maria's serious mouth.

"Well, I'm always up for another lesson if you are."