Beginner's Luck

by Talya Firedancer

"Draw. Hold. Release."

Ichigo's mouth slewed into a grimace as he followed the instructions with pain-staking exactitude, gripping the practice bow hard and pulling at the string as he'd seen the Quincy do hundreds of times before. Yet again, after the release his arrow flew unevenly, burying itself into the wall of the practice yard a good two meters off-target. He leveled one eye at Ishida in a glower.

From a safe distance, Ishida returned the glare over the rims of his glasses, his arms folded primly over his chest. "I won't be guiding your form," he informed Ichigo stiffly. "If you thought I was getting that close to you, forget it. Your bow comes from inside you. Stop trying to imitate my form."

That Ishida had actually strung several sentences at him for his edification slipped right past Ichigo; he sped right to the insult and seized on it. "Imitate YOU? As if! Look, just 'cause I didn't win the bet in the first six shots..."

A black brow quirked at him. "You have four more. Good luck."

Ichigo squared his shoulders, then inhaled a gust of air, sucking on frustration. He drew, finding his own moment of calm inevitability that closed in on him when he drew his zanpaku-to, and sighted. Then he let fly, and whooped as the arrow cleaved the air.

It struck dead center.

Ishida sighed, two fingers winching his glasses higher over his nose, almost disguising the twist of smile that disappeared the next instant. "I'll bet you can't do that again."

Ichigo turned to him with a shit-eating grin. "Double or nothing?"