ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
If you've been following my Love Is For Children series, you may have noticed that it started out with shorter stories and then got into longer ones as the characterization and plot threads built up. Part of that happened due to getting great ideas from reader input and weaving it in, when I should have taken some of those ideas and made separate smaller stories of them. This is a problem, because it's much easier for me to start things than to finish them. I bogged down on the series because I wound up with stories bigger than I can readily finish. I have a rule about not posting things until they are finished, for precisely that reason. I've been frustrated at having a bunch of stuff written that I can't do anything with. But I do better with shorter things and I'm okay at threading them together to make a longer storyline out of those pieces. So I have decided to try picking apart the big stories into pieces of more manageable size. After all, fanfic is where I experiment and make mistakes and try radical new solutions. Basically, I'm redefining what "finished" means, in the interest of being able to share at least some of what I've already written rather than leave it sitting around. Also Dreamwidth has allegedly made longer posts feasible so I'm testing that too. We'll see how well that works.


So "Coming in from the Cold" is the next big piece, dealing with Bucky and his continued issues with that piece-of-crap prosthesis. The early part has several days worth of team interactions, and I think they will make reasonable sense taken one day at a time, for readers familiar with the series to date. "Saturday: Building Towers" is actually right before Memorial Day, although it will take a while to get there.

This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk," "kintsukuroi," "Little and Broken, but Still Good," "Up the Water Spout," "The Life of the Dead," "If They Could Just Stay Little," and "Anahata."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Natasha Romanova, Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, JARVIS, Tony Stark.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Public surveillance (consensual on the part of the main characters). Mention of past trauma with lingering symptoms of PTSD. Current environment is safe. Shyness. Nausea. Imposter syndrome. Boundary issues. Negative coping skills. Communication issues. Anxiety. Depending on how you interpret it, Bruce's mistreatment of Hulk may count as domestic violence, sibling abuse, or self-harm. Tension among the team. Sleep dread. Fear of death. Sleep disorders.
Summary: Steve coaxes Bruce and Bucky to go out running with him. Later on, there is Game Night.
Notes: Hurt/comfort. Family. Fluff and angst. Coping skills. Exercise. Healthy touch. Asking for help and getting it. Hope. Tony takes things apart. Dietary concerns and solutions. Comfort food. Positive coping skills. Talking. Self-control. Discouraging mistreatment. Facing fears. Nonsexual ageplay. Nonsexual intimacy. Gifts. Caregiving. Competence. Toys and games. Gentleness. Trust. Bedtime stories. Sleep. #coulsonlives

This story returns to the main storyline of "Love Is for Children."

I also have a list of photogenic scenes from the whole series for fanartists to consider, a series landing page, and anarchive of images. The perk story "Brotherlove, Brotherlust" Part 3 is still open for participation.

A note on feedback: While it's not necessary to comment on every post I make, remember that I don't know who reads/likes things if nobody says anything. Particularly on long stories, I've discovered that I get antsy if there's nothing but crickets chirping for several posts. So it helps to give me feedback at least once, even if it's just "I like this" or "This one doesn't grab me." First and last episodes are ideal if you rarely feel inspired to comment in the middle.

Anonymous commenters: You don't have to specify exactly who you are, but it helps to have a first name or a username from some other service, so I have some idea of who's saying which and how many different "Anonymous" folks there are. You can just type some kind of identifier at the end of your comment.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9.


Coming in from the Cold
Saturday: Building Towers



Phil flipped through his email as he made coffee in his own kitchen, enjoying the quiet Saturday morning. He couldn't keep his thoughts off the team, though. Steve and Bucky had headed outside for exercise. Clint and Natasha had gone downstairs to help Betty with some sort of weaponry analysis in the lab. Phil wasn't sure what Bruce and Tony might be up to at this hour. He fiddled with his Starkpad, fingers restless on the controls.

"Phil, are you all right? You seem worried," JARVIS said.

"I'm glad that Steve finally managed to coax Bucky out of the tower, but yes, I'm also a little concerned about safety. The modern world can be overwhelming to people who aren't used to it," Phil said. Steve hadn't reacted at all well to his first exposure. Although he had adapted since, it still made him twitchy on occasion. Phil blamed Fury for that. "This is the first time Bucky has been outside easy reach since we rescued him." Bucky had stepped outdoors a few times, but stayed within the tower's immediate footprint.

"Not outside my reach," JARVIS said. "Here, you can watch them run." A grainy image appeared on Phil's screen, showing the two super-soldiers as they loped easily down the sidewalk. After a few seconds it changed to a different angle and a much clearer image.

"Are you ... following them through security cameras?" Phil asked. "Do they know about this?" In his experience, people tended to object to that kind of surveillance. Phil himself never turned off the tower security feed, except for extreme clearance reasons or someone else's privacy request. It didn't feel right, after the way he hacked into JARVIS when they first met, and especially now that JARVIS and Tony had introduced him to the intimate code. Phil couldn't undo the original violation, but he could act to balance their respective access to each other, so Phil didn't hide from JARVIS. He had, however, thought that the only other person so open with JARVIS was Tony.

"Yes and yes," JARVIS said. "Watch, and I'll prove it."

The perspective changed again, this time a frontal view. It bobbed up and then down. Neither of the men changed their pace, but Steve's hand made the OK sign and then lifted in a cheery wave as he grinned at the camera.

"They don't seem to mind you watching them," Phil mused. He filled his coffee cup and sipped thoughtfully.

"Steve says he feels safer with friendly eyes on his back," JARVIS said. "I have telemetry too if you want it." Vital signs stacked neatly down the side of the screen.

"How can you get those readings outside the tower?" Phil asked.

"They're wearing monitors," JARVIS said. "Bruce shared his design for the wrist model. Tony upgraded it for him. Steve noticed the change and requested a copy for workout purposes."

Of course Steve would want that, Phil realized. He organizes most of the physical fitness routines for the team. This tells him more about how well those work.

It was more than just that, though. It was another example of Steve's innate gift for leadership and cooperation. He saw a need and asked his teammates to help address it -- Bruce for the initial design, Tony for the improvements, JARVIS for the data handling. Steve did things like this easily, gracefully, pulling along a bunch of touchy individualists and melding them into a real team. It was utterly beautiful in a handler's eyes.

"Speaking of Bruce, where is he?" Phil asked.

"Fairly close to Steve and Bucky, on their seven o'clock," JARVIS said.

"He's actually out running with them?" Phil said. Bruce strongly preferred not to raise his heart rate if he could avoid it. "When did this happen?"

"It's a new development as of this week," JARVIS said. "I'm sorry, it's hard to get a camera on him. He tends to avoid them, and he's so -- oh, here he comes!"

Bruce darted between Steve and Bucky, slapping Steve on the shoulder as he passed. Bucky swiped at him but missed. Bruce ran lightly up a low wall, scampered along the top, and then disappeared down the other side. The whole pass had taken less than three seconds.

A score popped up beneath the vital signs, showing how often Bruce had tagged Steve and Bucky, and how often they'd managed to connect with him. Bruce was two points ahead. Bucky had succeeded in tapping him several times, Steve less so. Interesting.

As Phil watched, Bruce pounced on them from behind two garbage cans, but failed to tag anyone this time. He was grinning anyway as he dodged between parked cars. All three men seemed to be keeping a careful eye on traffic and other potential hazards.

"Freerunning," Phil murmured. "I forgot about that." It was easy to forget, because Bruce made it easy. He presented the image of a dumpy scientist, and people overlooked just how fast and flexible he really was. Phil recalled the reports, now, from Bruce's escapes in various countries. The race through the favelas of Brazil was legendary. General Ross and his men had been so outclassed.

I wonder if we're underutilizing Bruce in the field, Phil mused. Then he added aloud, "Do Clint and Natasha know about this?" They would love it.

"No, and we're not allowed to tell them yet. Bruce isn't willing to run with them, and Steve promised him a week before sharing the idea," said JARVIS. Bruce and Natasha trusted each other far more now than when they first met, but there were limits. They still had trouble with some new activities. Fast or unexpected movements were an issue too. They worked around that as best they could.

"Because they'll probably wind up taking turns, and Steve wants Bruce to get as much exercise as possible," Phil guessed.

"That matches my conclusion, yes," said JARVIS.

"Well, I trust the team to work it out," said Phil. He went back to work reading his email, but from time to time he tabbed over to the screen showing the three (or two, usually) men as they made a long loop around the tower neighborhood. It felt good just to see Bruce so happy, so playful, for once. Even now he tended to be somber much of the time. The damage from his childhood and his fugitive years cast long shadows.

When they came home, Phil set his work aside so that he could go meet them. They trooped through the common floor into the kitchen. Bruce was panting for breath, soaked with sweat. Steve and Bucky just had a nice glow. Bucky paused for a moment, laying his head against Steve's chest.

What in the world ...? Phil wondered. Then he realized that Bucky was listening to the deep clear sound of Steve's breath, sharing in the joy of a healthy body. Bruce joined them. Bucky looped an arm around him without hesitation, pulling him into a little family hug.

Steve finally shooed them away so that he could root in the refrigerator. He came out with an armload of Gatorade bottles in rainbow colors. As Steve passed those around, Phil pushed away from the threshold and stepped into the kitchen.
Bruce startled. "Uh, Phil ... what're you, I mean, uh, good morning."

"Good morning, everyone," Phil said. "You look like you've been having fun."

"Yeah, it was great," Bucky said. "Steve invited us out for a morning run. I could get used to this." He laced his fingers together, sheathed metal against flesh. "I've missed being able to work out at full throttle."

Bruce tucked his chin against his chest, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Phil took that as a good sign. Usually Bruce was quick to include himself out of activities, especially physical exertion. Bucky's enjoyment of the excursion also boded well. Tony had trips planned with both of them. Phil suspected that Steve meant this venture as a discreet test of their comfort levels.

"I'm pleased to hear that," Phil said. He patted them as he passed on the way to the refrigerator. Heat rose off their bodies in waves. "Congratulations on your win, Bruce." Phil pulled out a bottle of orange juice and shut the door. It gave him an excuse for being in the kitchen.

"Uh, thanks, I guess," said Bruce.

"What were you playing for?" Phil asked.

"I get jelly beans, Bucky gets sour patch kids, and Bruce gets saltwater taffy," Steve explained as he dug into the divided candy jar that JARVIS had just unlocked. "We each get one piece per point we score."

Phil chuckled. "Well done."

Bucky finished his Gatorade and popped his prize into his mouth. Then he rummaged in a paper bag that they had evidently picked up while outside.

"Redline? Honestly, is that what you were doing while I was running the fire escape?" Bruce said. "You went shopping for energy drinks while I wasn't looking. Guys, this is not smart, that stuff isn't good for you --"

"Yeah, but it tastes great," Steve said. "I know, you told us all the fake-sugar-things are bad. Look, this is a new flavor, with real sugar. I checked."

"That's not actually good, it's just ... less bad," Bruce said. "Now you're getting Bucky into this stuff too? Not helping, Steve."

"I just want to try it," Bucky said. "Now that we're warmed up, we're going down to the gym for a real workout. Could use something with a little kick, you know?" He headed for the door, a cluster of colorful cans swinging from his fingers. Steve grabbed the other six-pack and followed him.

"Oh well ... at least they remembered the warning about artificial sweeteners," Bruce muttered. "Small steps."

Phil gave him a friendly nudge. "You know how Steve gets with sweet things. Just teaching him to read the labels first is an accomplishment," Phil said. "Be patient with them. They're trying to be good. Food is more complicated now than it used to be."

"Yeah, I know," Bruce said, bumping softly against Phil's shoulder.

"So what have you been up to, besides getting out in the world?" Phil asked.

Bruce burbled about yesterday's astrophysics experiments for a solid ten minutes. Phil listened fondly. Bruce might not be very comfortable with ordinary small talk, but it didn't take much to get him going on about science. "... and you probably haven't understood a word I've said," Bruce finished with a guilty twitch.

"I'm high-speed; if you keep talking about this stuff, eventually I'll pick up enough to follow you even if I couldn't do any of it myself," Phil said.

"Okay," Bruce said. Then he grimaced and raked a hand through his sweaty hair. "I should rinse off and then get back down to the lab. Betty's working on gamma weapons; she might need another pair of eyes on that. Plus Tony wants me to proofread the specs for Bucky's replacement arm. We're about ready to start building a prototype. Tony's been collecting spare parts all week, along with tooling some stuff from scratch; he wants to try some different options to see what works best."

"I'll leave you to it," Phil said. Then he headed back to work. It was enough to know that everyone came home safe, neither Bruce nor Bucky too rattled by the excursion outside the tower, and Steve not overwhelmed by the modern city. Slowly but surely they were adapting to their new life here.

Once in his office, Phil worked through the next lesson in quaternary code. He was learning the actual vocabulary now. The objects, actions, and other components were made up of smaller pieces that came together to express ideas. It was intricate, yet elegant, and he couldn't help admiring it.

That reminded Phil of a conversation he'd been meaning to broach for a while now.

* * *

Notes:

Public surveillance is growing rapidly, although it has many dangers. To the Avengers -- except for Bruce -- it's the water that fish don't see.

The Incredible Hulk featured some truly memorable chase scenes. I've taken bits from a vast range of Hulk canon, and this is where LIFC!Bruce gets his evasive maneuvers. Essentially, he does freerunning. Here's a video demonstration of freerunning as a sport. For Bruce it is a survival skill.

Fitness trackers come in a variety of styles and features. Bannertech is better than all of them. JARVIS is connected with these remotes in addition to his command of all the Stark Industries stuff.

Gourmet jelly beans, sour patch kids, and saltwater taffy are the prizes featured above.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-24 06:11 am (UTC)
dru_evilista: A purple swirl (Purple Swirl)
From: [personal profile] dru_evilista
Oh the happy noise I made when I saw this! Adore this series. Any way you want to write/post it is awesome.

I loved all of it, the boys out running, Steve actively enjoying JARVIS keeping an eye on them, Bruce again making awesome stuff everyone else wants to get in on, Bruce having fun with his freerunning, bets with candy, Bruce trying to make his team family avoid bad for them stuff... I can't stop smiling!

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-05-24 01:05 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Steve in khaki, Peggy foreground (Behind Woman)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I was going to say, this is him and Bucky getting the benefit of friendly eyes just as he had Bucky's eyes during the war.

And that is right there the difference between this and Sitwell's order in CA:TWS. Friendly eyes as opposed to eyes with unknown agendas that may use that observation to stay hidden.

I've some fic up already dealing with some similar issues; that story got into some stuff that meant the rest couldn't be released piecemeal.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-05-24 09:36 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: in red serge Benton looks askance (Benton looks back)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
This looks like a good way to handle pieces, since you've got them at a certain point. I've also got a Big Hunk story weasel, and somethings that may fit as 'watercolors' while other times I'm going to be working the canvas extensively. It was very nice to get to post some things recently.

Exactly, fear is the enemy because if you act in fear before there is an offense, you have been the instigation of the natural defense of your oppressed. Figuring that out is something vital for anyone dealing with intelligences, organic (like small children) and artificial (small binary children).

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-05-25 01:10 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
There is a canon colonel that (after taking a top spot of her West Point graduating class) was better at Hulk herding because she'd have her men hold back and not poke him. Not read any of those comics, but it's in there.

Hulk is way smarter in his way than Bruce, in that he knows he never started these things. I really have problems with Bruce re:Ultron, but that's another thread entirely.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-24 11:41 am (UTC)
siberian_skys: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siberian_skys
Yay, two mornings in a row waking-up to your fic. That makes me very happy. And I wholeheartedly approve of the posting method experiment. The more you post fic the better.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-24 02:12 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
No in-depth comments as I'm watching kids, but I'm happy to see more in this series!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-24 09:01 pm (UTC)
dreamwriteremmy: a silhouette of a male (A Gentleman)
From: [personal profile] dreamwriteremmy
I agree with all the other commenters. Yay update. :D

We've been re-reading bits and pieces of previous Love is For Children pieces this past week because it's was that kind of week where the need for fix-it stuff is a lot higher than usual.

♥ This series actually has itself bookmarked into our WRAP plan. So I guess you get lots of props for that honor.

- Carlos

I liked it!

Date: 2015-05-25 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tadpoleacorn
I think it's clever to post in chunks so you don't get overwhelmed by how much of it has to be written before you can post it.

Also... I've been reading so much action-oriented fanfiction lately that I forgot how much I looked forward to this, to the little domestic things that are about people being people...

Re: I liked it!

Date: 2015-05-25 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tadpoleacorn
Thanks! I've read all of Hart's Farm already and I... don't really handle things with DID in them well. I can only just handle Bruce and the Hulk in Love Is For Children. Thank you for the recommendations though.

Re: I liked it!

Date: 2015-05-27 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tadpoleacorn
I definitely believe that. I've read enough of your works to know that they are very good and cover many topics. I'm just incredibly easy to trigger about this, so I usually just avoid it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 12:26 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I like this.

Yay!

Date: 2015-05-25 12:46 pm (UTC)
moongoddessgirl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moongoddessgirl
Love is for Children is back! This is the first thing of yours that I really got into and I still love it justas much. I really like the way that Bruce is able to be included with Steve and Bucky. You do a good job of making the team feel like an actual team.

Yay!

Date: 2015-05-25 06:02 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
...it's LIFC!

I hope your new pacing experiment works out well.

Loving Bruce as freerunner. (And am now wondering if, somewhere out there, Sam is running laps too.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 10:27 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
still reading, still no headspace for comments.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-27 09:24 pm (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
HOLY SHIT I CAN'T BELIEVE I MISSED IT! This is GLORIOUS. (And yes, Phil, you are underutilizing Bruce. He's fast and cunning. That could turn into an amazing superhero all on its own, even without the Hulk.)

I wonder if making it a game would make Bruce feel more comfortable? Not a kid game per se, just 'playing' with the super-soldiers or Clint--or even Tony--by having them tag each other or throw balls during training exercises? The groundwork seems to be laid out here, and Bruce seems to enjoy it--play is natural for learning...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-01 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So, so glad to see that this series is continuing! I whole-heartedly approve of your experiment and look forward to seeing how it works out.

(No better comments than that currently, though I'm off to Part 2. Huzzah!)

~Anony-mouse

Ace-fan

Date: 2015-06-07 04:22 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I am so pleased to see a new story in this series! Especially since the first chapter involves happy interaction between Bruce and Phil, and Bucky and Steve. I'm getting particularly attached to Bruce.
It's cool that you included Bruce's freerunning skills. That scene in the favelas was fantastic!
I really liked Edward Norton as Bruce/Hulk. Funny thing, although Mark Ruffalo's body-language was more obviously submissive/fawning etc., I found it easier to see how he could be the Hulk. Norton was less the kind of guy you could picture turning into a massive green rage monster, I guess. I liked that contrast between unassuming Bruce and the Hulk. (Maybe Bruce's sarcasm and bitterness in the Avengers played into a more obvious interpretation of suppressed anger?)
I love that Bruce was playing a game - a physically demanding game, no less - outside of age-play. Happy Bruce is cute. And he knew he was on camera! Even though he avoided the cameras most of the time, that's still impressive progress for Bruce, trusting JARVIS to watch him outside the tower. (And possibly make the footage go "missing" from other databases?) That seems like something JARVIS would do, so long as there was nothing crime-relevant happening in the shot.
Your summary suggests this story will be more Bucky-focused, which is also cool. I am favouritism-deficient. Every time a different character becomes the focus/does something cute, my response is along the lines of "Aw, I love Clint! He's my favourite... And Natka! She's my favourite too! Oh, and Tony Carter, he is defo my favourite! Well, except for Betty... and Steve..." Yeah, I need to stop using that word. I render it fairly meaningless in a short time...
Anyway, my inability to love one character over another means that your switching focus to different team-family members, and also having them AS a family, both in terms of being in group settings, and in terms of their having genuine affection between them, (rather than the "this superhero is the BEST, the others kind of suck a little bit" approach many fans take) means that this series is easily my favourite... one of them, anyway. ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-07-08 02:47 am (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
I love how Phil is trying to get JARVIS out of his shell more. JARVIS has never been a child, of course, not the way we mean it, but he to has grown up and learned, and is parenting wasn't always ideal... (Tony tries, but...) Plus he's had the trauma of losing Tony, and then of the Stane "incident." He need to experience a safe space and playtime. Though I agree he'd probably prefer being one of the adults. Taking care of people is pretty much the essence of his being. Though I wish he'd learn to take care of himself, too...

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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