ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story is a sequel to "Love Is for Children," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys," "Saudades," and "Turnabout Is Fair Play."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, JARVIS, Betty Ross.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: No standard warnings apply.
Summary: Clint messes up his back while testing some new archery equipment. Bruce offers to fix his back for him.
Notes: Asexual character (Clint). Aromantic character (Natasha). Asexual relationship. Teamwork. Flangst. Fear of vulnerability. Trust issues. Skin hunger. Hurt/comfort. Non-sexual touching and intimacy. Non-sexual ageplay. Cuteness. Personal growth. Family of choice.

If you've been reading this series for the fluffy ageplay, that's the last two parts of the story.  There's a bit of angst up front and then a great deal of mostly soothing bodywork in the middle.

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."

Skip to Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.
There is now a sequel, "Splash."


"Touching Moments" Part 1 of 8


Phil was finishing lunch with Bruce in the common kitchen when Clint and Tony came in, discussing the new archery equipment that Tony had made for Clint. "So now that you've gotten a chance to shoot for a few hours, what do you think?" Tony asked.

"I love the EMP arrowheads and the armor-piercing ones. Not as sure about the harness, but the selection feature on the quiver is definitely more user-friendly," Clint said, rolling his shoulders under the straps.

"You happy with the grab function on the EMPs now?" Tony said.

"Yeah, I like the magnetic tip in addition to the spring-claws," Clint said. "It's definitely worth the slight increase in weight, because almost anything I need EMPs for will attract a magnet."

"That should help a lot, Tony," said Phil. "Thank you for taking the time to improve Hawkeye's gear." Last week a rampaging robot spider had nearly crushed Captain America because the team had counted on an EMP arrow frying its circuitry. The arrow had struck true but the grip function had failed.

"I live to make the cool toys," Tony said with a grin.

"You make the coolest toys ever," Clint said. He linked his fingers together behind his head and stretched to the right, then further to the left. "Stark tech outperforms SHIELD almost every time."

"Almost?" Tony said, clutching his arc reactor. "Cut me to the quick, Legolas!"

"You're too sensitive, cupcake," Clint said as he flexed his shoulders.

"Are you all right, Clint?" asked Bruce, pushing away his empty salad bowl.

Phil swept an appraising gaze over Clint. He didn't see any sign of injury, but he trusted Bruce's observational skills. "Talk to me, Clint," he said.

Clint shrugged, paused, and rubbed a hand over his left shoulderblade. "Ah, it's nothing, I'm a little stiff from practice is all."

"From a measly three hours  of practice?" Tony said with a frown. "I've seen you go twice that without flinching. Something must be wrong."

"Your movements after shooting usually look more fluid," Bruce said. "This isn't like you."

"It'll wear off," Clint insisted. "I just need to stretch out a little more."

"Tony's right, Clint, a three-hour session shouldn't faze you," Phil said. He'd seen Hawkeye shoot for considerably longer, or climb down from a bird's nest perfectly supple after remaining in position all day.

"Turn around so I can see the rigging," Tony said, pulling Clint into place to look at his equipment from behind. "I need feedback, Robin Hood. Without input about what specifically works or does not work, I can't deliver the best goods in the world. Most you'll get is quasi-terrific." Sensitive engineer's fingers traced meticulously along the straps and down the line of the quiver where it rested against Clint's shirt. "In fact, take this off, it's trash, I'll figure out what's wrong and fix it."

"I could give you --" Bruce began.

"Thanks but no thanks, doc. I hate muscle relaxants, they mess up my reflexes. If I'm not screaming, I don't need 'em," Clint said. He started to unfasten the straps.

"-- a backrub, is what I meant. I could actually fix this by hand," Bruce said. "It's probably just knotted muscles and lactic acid buildup. At least let me take a look." He got up to examine Clint's back. Just as Bruce put a hand on Clint's shoulder to push him into a better position, Tony peeled back one of the velcro tabs with a loud ripping sound.

Clint jerked away, spinning to press his back against the nearest wall, one hand automatically reaching for the fletch of an arrow even though he didn't have his bow. "Don't do that," he said tightly. "I don't like having anyone right behind me, especially more than one person."

"It's okay," Bruce said, spreading his hands.

"Take it easy," Tony said at the same time. He flattened his hands over his thighs, because palms-forward was actually an attack position for him.

"Sorry, I'm sorry, it's just -- bad memories, yeah?" Clint said. He gave Phil a pleading look.

"A sniper's hyperfocus on target can leave him vulnerable to attack from other directions," Phil explained quietly. "One time in Tuzla, three men dropped on top of Hawkeye from a higher balcony and dragged him away from his post. It took us two hours to extract him, and by then he wasn't in very good shape."

Tony held out a hand and snapped his fingers. "Give me the gear, Cupid," he said. "I'll go work the problem from that end." Slowly Clint shrugged out of his harness and held out the quiver for Tony to take. It took a few extra seconds for Clint to make his fingers uncurl. Tony waited. Only when Clint pulled his hand back did Tony sling the straps over his shoulder and head for his lab.

Clint sidled over to the table and sat down next to Phil, leaning against his shoulder. "This could turn into a problem, working with a team," he muttered, guilt thickening his voice.

"It could," Phil said. "Hasn't yet, though. Don't beat up on yourself."

"How can I not? It's stupid," Clint said. "I know nobody on the team means me any kind of harm. It's just -- Tony was pulling on me, and Bruce was pushing, and velcro sounds like cloth tearing, and -- well. My head went to a bad place. I need that not to happen if I'm going to be around this many people on a regular basis."

"Maybe I can help with that too. The Other Guy hates people flanking him, for rather similar reasons," Bruce said. "Clint? If I sit beside you instead of standing behind you, would that be okay? I'd still like to check your back."

"It's fine, I'm fine," Clint said. He slumped forward, elbows on the table, then rested his face in his hands.

"We need you to be honest with us, Clint," said Phil, because Clint obviously was not fine.

"Okay, so, my back's a bit sore and I'm twitchy," Clint admitted. "Sitting beside me won't make it any worse."

* * *

Notes:

EMP stands for "electromagnetic pulse," a way of disabling technology.

Legolas is a character from The Lord of the Rings, a stealthy hunter and skilled climber.  Tony often uses nicknames for Clint based on famous archers.

Isometric exercise is a way to use muscles without moving: a secret trick for avoiding stiffness while remaining still. Hunters do this, especially in tree stands or duck blinds. Clint knows how to stay flexible while sniping, so if he stiffens up, people know something must be wrong.

Robin Hood is a legendary archer with trickster qualities.

Bruce's offer to help, and his quick recoil when Clint jerks away, are examples of his fawn response.  Many abused children feel a driving need to be of use, and respond submissively to threats, in hopes of getting hurt less.

Hyperfocus is a narrowing of attention, which tends to cut down wider aspects of situational awareness.  Or in gaming terms: if you boost your offensive capability, it lowers your defensive capability.

Tuzla is a city in Herzegovina.

Cupid is a god of desire and sexual love, commonly portrayed with a bow and arrow.  Most people have forgotten that in addition to the famous arrows of love (tipped with gold and fletched with dove feathers) he also carries the arrows of indifference (tipped with lead and fletched with owl feathers).  That's very apt for this asexual version of Clint -- and Tony probably knows that, because nothing about weaponry ever escapes his attention.

Flashbacks are memories or fragments of previous experiences which recur in the present, sometimes randomly but usually in response to a trigger that bears some similarity to earlier trauma.  Literary depictions favor the full-immersion variety that entails "reliving" the stressful event; that's not the most common, and portrayals of this delicate topic are patchy.  What happens to Clint is far more typical: a sudden feeling of panic and threat triggered by a reminder, in this case the close proximity of people and the sound of velcro.  Flashbacks rank among the primary symptoms of PTSD, although they can occur in other contexts. It's important to know your triggers -- the Avengers are doing a good job of learning the different things that set each other off so they can avoid stepping on those.  It's also helpful to talk about the problem before it activates, so people know what to do.  What helps one person may not work for another.  There are ways to help someone having a flashback, and steps to pull yourself out of a flashback.  Relaxation techniques may also help.

Personal problems can become collective problems when they affect teamwork.  There are tips for employers and tips for employees for dealing with private issues that come up in public space.  Team culture is important for effective work in many situations, and it takes work to maintain when things go wrong.  Solving collective problems requires involving the people most affected by them.  In this story you can see examples of how people may tough it out on their own as long as an issue only affects them individually, but look for a solution when it starts interfering with the team.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-25 05:52 am (UTC)
pinkhairedharry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkhairedharry
Poor Clint. I just want to hug the hell out of him. Can't wait for more

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-25 01:13 pm (UTC)
caitriona_3: (Clint)
From: [personal profile] caitriona_3
Nice. I'm looking forward to this type of exploration - delving into some of their PTSD issues like this one with Clint.

Clint

Date: 2013-03-25 01:35 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
As I've said before, I started reading this series for the ageplay, but now, I'm just addicted. I'm a sucker for any kind of hurt/comfort or emotional intimacy and the psychological layers are intriguing too. I'm looking forward to this one. And just so you know, I loved Flip in the last one too.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-25 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antivol.livejournal.com
While Clint is not a character I tend to like, I'm still interested by what's happening here. Especially the way he's honest and aknowledges how he feels in the last lines. I'm looking forward to see how you treat this, and maybe to feel a little more for Clint ; ) ! Thanks for sharing!

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2013-03-26 06:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antivol.livejournal.com
I'm sure this will work for me, because so far I've loved everything you write, and as soon as I have a little more time on my hands, I'm going back to read more of your original fiction.
My favorite character is Steve. Then I like Coulson, Thor, Bruce. Tony slowly but surely grew on me, too. I don't dislike Natasha and Clint, but I feel less drawn to them. I think Natasha's been growing on me since I've begun reading your story, though.
Thanks again for sharing and taking the time to answer the comments : ) !

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-26 02:40 am (UTC)
rosieknight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosieknight
Glee! Another new story in this wonderful series! :D

(Sorry, I'm kind of a habitual lurker.)

I'm looking forward to how Clint and the rest of the group deal with his issues, possibly including the ones related to Loki and the staff. Also, the group might address Clint being one of the few normal humans on the team and other ways he can help while recovering from an injury.

Or they might not.

Really, I'm looking forward to whatever story you tell.

Can't wait for the next chapter!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-26 04:46 am (UTC)
thnidu: painting: a girl pulling a red wagon piled almost to her own height of books along a sidewalk (books)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Well, I'm still reading, 'cause I still appreciate. And I'm glad to have more company in the comments section. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-27 08:30 pm (UTC)
aewnaur: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aewnaur
yay a new story!! I'm still getting used to this dreamwidth account and i keep forgetting to check for an update and then the comment box isn't always in the right place and the whole page looks different everytime i come .. lol. anyway i haven't left the story i am just as psyched as i ever was .. and this time woot !! Clint !!! .. off to read another chapter just saying from the first chapter that this looks to be an awesome story!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-27 03:06 am (UTC)
sherza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherza
I know we've been chatting extensively elsewhere in the series, but I have to say this. There is one detail in this section that sold me on the ENTIRE series as a whole, and on the incredible attention to detail you have. And it's this.

>>"Take it easy," Tony said at the same time. He flattened his hands over his thighs, because palms-forward was actually an attack position for him.<<

I cannot begin to tell you how awesome I found that. Because I cannot think of a single other fanfic writer who made that connection, and made a point of having Tony's body language change accordingly.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-27 03:54 am (UTC)
sherza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherza
>>Bruce is intensely submissive, fidgety, and he does that hand-spreading, air-patting, calm-down-don't-hurt-me gesture a lot. Tony fidgets too, but he doesn't soothe; he dominates. On the rare occasions he tries to avoid escalating something, he does it by stilling his body and putting his hands palm-down on something or on himself.<<

I adore it when writers include body language in fics, period, but especially when it deviates from 'normal'. It's part of why I *adore* Mark Ruffalo's Banner, because he included a billion and one physical tics (hand-wringing, ducking and/or averting his head if anyone with a gun/military personnel were close by) that writers can so very easily bounce off of and expand on.

But with Tony, for whatever reason, people seem to completely miss the whole 'palms up and out = aggressive' thing. Hell, even *I* missed it until I read it in your fic, and promptly had a Fridge Brilliance (as TV Tropes puts it) moment of 'holy shit ... good point!'. It's understandable in fics based on/around the first Iron Man film, and possibly even the second, depending on how long it is between the two movies, because Tony wouldn't have adjusted/adapted to the new body language yet, but as of Avengers ... yeah, he's spent more than enough time in the suit kicking bad guy ass for his brain and body to have fully adapted to the palms up thing and changed his 'I come in peace' gesture accordingly.

And you have a good point about Tony and dominating/escalating situations. The Senatorial review board is a *classic* case of that. The more antagonistic Tony got, the more flamboyant his gestures got, culminating in the multiple 'peace' and 'kiss my ass' gestures before he swaggered out.

>>And of course, I have a scene in mind where somebody triggers Tony into full defense mode, and he would've blasted them through a wall if he'd been wearing the repulsors at the time.<<

*big anime eyes* Ohhhhhhhhhh, that sounds ... interesting. In the Chinese way. *grin* Can't wait to see it.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-27 06:09 am (UTC)
sherza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherza
>>I swear, if I were standing next to him and shit went down, I'd have yanked him behind me before I even remembered that he had a bulletproof-half.<<

You too? I swear I spent the first half of Avengers going 'let me tuck you in somewhere and keep you safe, you poor thing' at Bruce. Ruffalo really knew how to tug at the heartstrings without saying a damn thing.

>>Ah, but here's the thing about Tony: he's a master of haptics. He codes computers, including holograms.<<

Now see, here's one spot we differ, because I've always read that as Tony being a whiz at numbers, but complete, utter shit at physical reality, at least up until Iron Man. He runs numbers and schematics and yeah, he evidently fucked his way through half the planet, but ...

ok, the more I think about it, the more I think you may be on to something, but I disagree about the incident on the roof with Stane. He was in the middle of a fight and just got a faceful of opponent ... it makes sense he'd automatically do what he'd been doing less than a minute before: blast the bastard. Now, if he'd done that instinctively outside of a combat situation (say, he's just walking along and someone surprised him accidentally), then I'd say you had a case there.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-28 05:36 am (UTC)
sherza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherza
Forgot to log in last time. D'oh.

>>Brilliant between-the-lines acting.<<

Amen. The moment that hit me hardest? Was when he was talking to Natasha in the hut, and said something to the effect of 'we don't always get what we want' and then *rocked the cradle*. Now, sure, you could take his words as 'yeah, I really don't want to go with you', and it's not even *wrong*, but that cradle move adds about ten more possible layers of subtext without Ruffalo having said a *thing*. Goddamned genius, right there. And from everything I've heard since the movie came out, that moment was NOT scripted. Ruffalo just took advantage of a prop present.

>>It's easy to miss if you don't know the fields involved, because people expect Tony to be a theorist because he's rich.<<

I actually didn't come at it from that angle. Though you're absolutely right about the forging. That said, I suspect Tony's poorskillz as you call it came about *despite* Howard. Or TO spite him. I can see Howard being all 'you're a Stark, Starks don't get their hands dirty' (The closest we see Howard to that is with the Tesseract fragment. Now he *might* have done his own work, especially during the War, but by the time Tony came around ... I'm thinking not so much) and Tony going 'I am going to get as dirty as humanly possible. Nyah!'

I just realized as I was typing that Tony is a troll. He deliberately antagonizes god and everyone, sometimes playfully, sometimes not. Thing is, to be a successful troll, you have to be able to read people like *whoah*, which means knowing body language. And Tony is a spectacularly successful troll, both in instigating responses from people and in NOT having those responses be 'punch Tony in the face' unless he *wants* that to be the reaction, like he did with Loki.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-28 09:50 am (UTC)
sherza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherza
>>Jolting Bruce with a tiny cattle prod was all kinds of not okay.<<

Definitely not ok, but I actually read that one as less trolling and more making a very huge point to Bruce that he was completely, totally unafraid of Hulk, beyond even Betty's levels of 'not scared', because even she flinched dealing with Big Green for the first time. Knowing Tony, he'd calculated the chances of Bruce Hulking at him over that down the the fifth decimal.

What makes it weird is that *Bruce* seemed to realize exactly what Tony was doing. Probably still thought Tony was out of his damn mind to not be afraid, but realized that Tony wasn't. And clearly *HULK* got the message, despite the method of delivery, if he was willing to save Tony's ass without any prompting.

>>And of the three, Tony was the one to offer hospitality and I suspect it may have been deliberate.<<

You're not the only one. I suspect the offer of hospitality was equal parts Tony being a snarky bastard, his knowledge of the fact that alcohol acts as a social lubricant, and some bit of noblisse oblige (sorry if I spelled that wrong), if there's 'how to treat a defeated enemy' somewhere in the "Rich Man's Code of Conduct".

Alternately, it was, possibly, continuing his apparent theme in the movie of reaching out to folks (Phil, Bruce, even makes nice, if briefly and in a very offhand way, with Thor once they're on the Helicarrier).

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-08 02:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh wow, I just got that, about Tony's non-threatening posture being one with the backs of his hands forward, instead of the open palm no weapons one people typically use. Interesting. It reminds me of something mentioned about Wolverine, how a tap from his knuckles was like a cocked gun in your face from anyone else. Just, body-awareness, this is how I am dangerous, this is how I am safe.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-17 05:29 am (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
Also just wanted to say that I love the conversations in the comments :) Thanks y'all!

Question

Date: 2013-12-23 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tresta
I've read all these stories several times and am anxiously awaiting the story after Hide and Seek.

I came back to read the series in Dreamwidth to get all the comments. Based on what you were discussing about Tony trolling Bruce with the cattle prod being an abuse marker (testing boundaries...)

I can see this very well; makes a lot of sense. What do you think happens if he prods at another abuse survivor who can't /wont give him a response to calibrate? Bruce will if pressed enough and certainly Clint would, but what if Tony meets a Bruce-type who doesn't have the Hulk? Would that person just curl up tighter and tighter in their own space trying not to make trouble? Not reacting to the prodding so to speak?

I think this made more sense in my head but do you follow? I love your stories so much I wanted to reach out and ask. I hope you'll keep the series going a long time.

I also wanted to ask about Clint's comment about velcro opening sounding like tearing cloth. It's clear from your writing that Clint got hurt in Tuzla, likely tortured, but I have always read from his behavior and responses in this first part that he was sexually attacked. Is that what you meant to convey?

BTW I don't ask that because of Clint's orientation; I think that is established later in this story in any case. EMMVV but it really read like a sexual attack to me. :-(

Clint and Tony and Bruce are my favorite characters and I love the way you write them. Thanks for giving Clint the safe touch he needs. I just kind of tear up over that.
Edited (Add question / spelling/ comments) Date: 2013-12-23 10:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Question

Date: 2013-12-24 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tresta
Clint has a high skin-hunger and knows it. Bruce-and-Hulk come in a close second but have a lot less awareness. So as the series progresses, you'll see Clint putting in extra effort to touch them more, because Clint comes to realize how much they need it. He wants to give back the sense of safety and comfort that Bruce has given him.

Yes, I loved sock-Clint in Splash. And I thought it was fantastic when Clint figured out what Hulk was thinking with the balloon and started to play with him.

And was it in this story (Splash) where Clint says something like he's not a genius and Tony points out that he tracks trajectories in his head? Loved that!

Thank you for sharing your thought process behind your writing here;I always like to know both parts (the written story and if I'm really into it, what the writer was thinking) which is probably why I like reading comments on these so much since you are very generous about sharing.

Kind of unrelated question; do you have any idea why so many people seem to connect Clint with the color purple? Did he wear that color in the Avengers movie or is that maybe from comic book canon? Have you come across that before?
Edited (To add comment) Date: 2013-12-24 01:25 am (UTC)

Re: Question

Date: 2013-12-24 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tresta

>> Yes, I loved sock-Clint in Splash. <<

That's a popular motif, and one I may revisit.


Yay! I hope you can do this. It'll be awesome. :-)

>> Kind of unrelated question; do you have any idea why so many people seem to connect Clint with the color purple

It is from the comics, and does not appear in the movie. I


Ohh, thanks! (Going to read link)
Edited (expanded reply) Date: 2013-12-24 02:11 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-01 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Fawn response... well that sounds horribly familiar. *sigh*

(Thank you for focusing on Clint. I think he is my favourite...)

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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