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," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," and "Touching Moments," "Splash," and "Coming Around."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Hulk, Steve Rogers, Betty Ross, JARVIS.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Inferences of past child abuse. Current environment is safe.
Summary: Doombots crash a beautiful spring day in the park. The Avengers clean up the mess. This includes Natasha's rather confused longing for something she never had: a birthday party.
Notes: Asexual character (Clint). Aromantic character (Natasha). Asexual relationship. Teamwork. Canon-typical violence. Friendship. Confusion. Hulk is a genius too. Multiplicity/Plurality. Fluff. Making up for lost time. Birthday. Cultural traditions. Games. Gifts. Cake. The cake is never a lie! Tickling. Trust issues. Safety and security. Non-sexual touching and intimacy. Personal growth. Family of choice.

If you've been reading this series for the ageplay, that's about half of this, and everything in the story angles toward it. If you read between the lines you'll see some darker psychological stuff, mostly relating to Natasha and Bruce. The tone is mostly fluff.

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 nickname 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.

Skip to Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16Part 17Part 18.

The sequel is "No Winter Lasts Forever."


"Birthday Girl" Part 1


A beautiful spring day drew people outdoors in droves. They filled the parks and spilled out into the streets. Naturally Victor von Doom decided to ruin this idyll with an attack on New York. The Avengers dealt with the Doombots while the Fantastic Four went after Victor himself.

Most of the heroes came through combat unscathed, but the Doombots managed to drop an entire truck on Captain America. Agent Coulson called for immediate extraction so Captain America could be hustled to SHIELD medical in time to set the broken bones before they healed in all the wrong angles. Iron Man took out his extreme displeasure on the remaining robots.

The citizens of New York likewise expressed their resentment over the villain's intrusion. Agent Coulson surveyed the aftermath of the battle, noting examples of their outrage. A small Hispanic gang had beaten one Doombot to scrap with a garbage can and several crowbars. An unknown party or parties had locked another onto a lamppost with bicycle chains. The SHIELD technicians will be delighted to get their hands on a relatively undamaged specimen, thought Agent Coulson.

Hulk walked through the remnants of a birthday party. Brightly colored paper lay scattered around, trampled into the short green grass. A Doombot had faceplanted into the rose-pink cake. The balloon vendor's cart sprawled on its side, surrounded by balloons. "Sad," Hulk said, his massive shoulders drooping.

"Yes, it is," Agent Coulson agreed. He jotted down what identifying details he could make out. The Avengers would want to know what happened to the children, and if possible, make up for the spoiled party. "We'll do what we can to make things right."

Hulk lifted the cart and set it upright, though it sagged over a broken wheel. Black Widow and Hawkeye picked their way through the wreckage. He rested a light hand on the small of her back. She looked down at the ruin of cheerful colors, torn paper blowing in the spring breeze, her face an impassive mask. Agent Coulson worried about her; Black Widow could be unpredictably sensitive or indifferent to matters concerning children.

"Pretty," Hulk said as he reached for the remaining balloons.

"Whoa, hey, careful!" Hawkeye exclaimed, waving his hands at Hulk. "Those balloons will pop if you squeeze them too hard -- make a loud noise. You might not like that."

Agent Coulson froze. He'd seen people react badly to balloons or fireworks that sounded too much like gunfire. It made sense that Hulk had an increased startle response after his experiences. Frightened Hulk tended to raise the collateral damage quotient by a sizable margin.

"No bloons?" Hulk said mournfully. He gave them a pleading look.

"You may play with the balloons if you wish, Hulk," Agent Coulson said. "Just be careful with them. Don't smash anything if the balloons pop." The Avengers were trying to give Hulk more opportunities for interaction after a battle. Broadening his experiences beyond violence might help him stay calm.

"Such silliness over a bit of rubber," Black Widow said in a cool tone.

"You have something against balloons?" asked Agent Coulson. If she does, better to find out this way than by causing an incident, he thought.

* * *

Notes:

Idyll refers to a scene evoking the delights of nature. Most often this refers to a rural setting, but parks and other idyllic areas are gaining popularity in cities. There's a strong aspect of fantasy to this as people like to imagine the world being nicer than it is. Hence the heightened reaction when Dr. Doom -- with his particularly technological flavor of villainy -- ruins the illusion.

The Fantastic Four are a team of superheroes based in New York.  They are opponents of Dr. Doom, and allies of the Avengers.  

Increased startle response is a common symptom of PTSD. Sudden motions or noises may remind the survivor of hazards. Any loud popping sound -- balloons, fireworks, a car backfiring, etc. -- can sound like gunfire and have a negative effect on anyone who's been shot at before. I typically write Hulk as having a low startle threshold, but that applies to a lot of the other Avengers too, just not all in the same ways.

There are tips for staying calm in a stressful situation and how to practice calm in everyday life.  The Avengers are helping Hulk develop a more balanced life so that he has experiences other than just violent ones.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 06:28 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow I love how this jumped headfirst straight into the action. I had the scenes playing through my head like a movie thanks to your great details and clarity XD I can already sense the feels incoming for Natasha. She definently needs to be Natka for a while, and this is a great chance to explore her character a little too. Beautiful update, I can tell I'm going to love it like the others :)

*Has a moment of silence for the lost cake...*

--Siren

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amarin_rose.livejournal.com
Awww, I've reached the end. *sadface* :( Can't wait for more! I bet Clint knows how to make balloon animals...

Yay! New fic!

Date: 2013-04-23 07:30 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nyrasmith
"No bloons?" Awwww! How cute! I love when Hulk gets to talk. I think it's cute that he has his own words for things and people. I like how Clint is watching out for him and noticing that the popping sound might set Hulk off unintentionally. I'm still on your ageplay bandwagon, can't wait to see how Natka wants to have her birthday party and how it will turn out. :) Love you fics!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 08:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antivol.livejournal.com
Natasha's cold reaction to the balloons is telling something! I can't wait to see where you're going with that (I think my own inner child can't wait for Natasha's party : )!) On another note, what's happening to Steve? Ah, I'm so looking forward for the next part! Thanks for this, and waiting for good things is part of the pleasure ; )!

Just spent an enjoyable hour or so...

Date: 2013-04-23 08:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
...reading all of the things :D Sorry I didn't leave a comment each time, couldn't bear to stop long enough.

--Wynjara

A Balloon... For Me?

Date: 2013-04-23 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hulk wanting to play with the balloons reminded me of Eeyore. Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.

I love this, it looks great, I hope Steve is okay and that I can figure out how the OpenID works so I can comment with an actual name.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 12:26 pm (UTC)
aldersprig: (me-lyn-kitty)
From: [personal profile] aldersprig
*bounce* Ballooons!

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-04-26 07:33 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
There's balloons and balloons, my dearie ducks!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 12:28 pm (UTC)
gryphynshadow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gryphynshadow
Yay! More story!

I love the ageplay stuff, especially as it's non-sexual. The sexual ageplay squicks me right out, mainly because, like your stories, I use a form of ageplay sometimes to work on my own issues. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is Skeptic7 -- Hi there. Waves at author! I love that you start with an army of Doombots wrecking a perfectly good day. Shield will have fun playing with the one tied to the lamp post. I wonder if anyone bothered to write rude messages on it before they called the cops to tell them where to pick up the garbage.
Could Shield get a weather balloon for the Hulk sometime? They could find a quiet rural area for a picnic and inflate the balloon. Hulk really needs Hulk size toys, regular balloons would be nearly pea size to him.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm along for the ride again! I can't wait for more. Thanks for updating often!

- Mariposaluna

Startles

Date: 2013-04-23 01:31 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
Exaggerated startle response is also common with various types of anxiety and panic disorders. I've had one my whole life and only figured out why after being diagnosed with generalized anxiety as an adult. Though Bruce's issues are clearly related to PTSD, they look an awful lot like anxiety/panic sometimes.

FYI, though I did not comment separately, I read and enjoyed the Schrodinger's Heroes/Avengers crossovers this past weekend.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-23 04:55 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I was ridiculously pleased to see someone who wasn't Phil or Steve looking after Hulk.

Also, I liked the nice detail of Steve's super-healing getting in the way of real healing.

Otherwise, what they all said :)

Hooray!

Date: 2013-04-23 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've been following your stories for a while, but then lost it for a few days, but I found my way back again! Love how you do this and I especially love the focus on Natasha for this story!
~DancingEyes

Following Along

Date: 2013-04-24 01:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love your stories. I found "Love Is For Children", then I finished it and poof! There's more. Just got trailed along with them. I love them all! -vamps

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-24 03:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This series is so great that I read the thing twice in one day keep up the great work- Mutt

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-31 06:38 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rynnalyn
Hi there. In the last few days two people who don't know each other separately and simultaneously rec'd you to me. Splash and Touching Moments specifically. I've been devouring these stories. I started with those two and worked backward in this series and now I'm moving forward again. You always ask for feedback and I felt bad I hadn't been leaving it all along. Frankly I was shocked to discover I even have a dreamwidth account, but it's very helpful here.

So onto the actual feedback. I work best in stories where my empathy, compassion, intellect and interest are all pinged. Reading this series has been a balm. Even the angst and obviously dark undertones are soothing because it all makes sense to me. It created a fantastic head canon I know I'll be dreaming in for a long time.

I really enjoy how you have incorporated the canon into these intricately woven stories pulling them all in and yet giving them their own truths, stark in their raw beauty. It's delicious. And there is so much left to submerge in! I don't comment often, but I'll try to check in at the end of each story.

Thank you for sharing this.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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