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," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," and "No Winter Lasts Forever."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, Betty Ross, JARVIS, Bucky Barnes, Virginia "Pepper" Potts.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Inferences of past child abuse, mind control, and other torture. Current environment is supportive.
Summary: Bucky has a bad day when his memory won't boot up quite right. This makes other people stressed out too. Attempts to help are partially successful, but then the team dynamics go severely pear-shaped.
Notes: Asexual character (Clint). Aromantic character (Natasha). Asexual relationship. Sibling relationships. Fix-it. Teamwork. Vulgar language. Flangst. Hurt/Comfort. Fear of loss. Friendship. Confusion. Memory loss. Nonsexual ageplay. Making up for lost time. Self-harm. Tony!whump. Tony Stark has a heart. Tony doesn't like being handed things. Howard Stark's A+ parenting. Games. Trust issues. Consent. Safety and security. Artificial intelligence. Food issues. Multiplicity/Plurality. Non-sexual touching and intimacy. Yoga. Communication. Personal growth. Cooking. Americana. Family of choice. Feels. #coulsonlives.

Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38, Part 39, Part 40, Part 41, Part 42, Part 43, Part 44, Part 45, Part 46, Part 47, Part 48, Part 49, Part 50, Part 51, Part 52, Part 53, Part 54, Part 55.

Here ends "Hide and Seek." Thank you all for sticking with the series this far! I love your input. Final thoughts on the story overall are welcome, in addition to reactions on this specific chapter. I also have a list of favorite photogenic scenes from the whole series for fanartists to consider, partly compiled from audience requests.

The next story in this series is, alas, nowhere near finished. I do have some other stuff to post in the meantime. Some of that is fiction, some poetry; some relates to this series, some is unconnected.  See a JARVIS-eye view of the scenes where Tony is missing and then found, in "Kernel Error."

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.


"Hide and Seek" Part 56


Then Steve and Bruce got into a discussion about changes in cooking practices over time. It started with the arrangement of apples in pies, then drifted into advances in kitchen equipment. The common kitchen already held a huge array of gadgets because Tony collected them, more out of a love for machines than any skill at using these.

"Wait until you see what a really fine tempering machine can do with chocolate," said Bruce.

"Or the marvels of making white-chocolate cheesecake in a crockpot," Betty added.

"With a food processor, any kind of chopping or slicing goes faster," Phil said, helping himself to another biscuit.

"I do not care for food processors," said Natasha. "Sometimes they reduce good vegetables to slush. I prefer to use a knife."

Steve nodded. "Yeah, doing it by hand works better for some things."

Tony's phone rang. He glanced at the screen and then answered it.

Phil frowned at him. "Phone calls during meals are discouraged, Tony."

"It's Pepper, I can't ignore her again," Tony said to Phil. Then he turned his attention to Pepper. "You got the specs I sent, right? Yeah. We're good? Great, I'm glad you like the prototypes. Sorry I couldn't come to the meeting you wanted, I got ... a little over-extended this week. I'll update the list with the new stuff you requested. Oh, that? It's covered. I sold some stuff in the Caymans. No worries. Listen, Pep, we're in the middle of supper and people are making frowny faces at me for being on the phone. Can I call you back later tonight? Yes, I promise, JARVIS will remind me if I forget. Thanks. Bye." Tony stuck the phone back in his pocket.

"What was that all about?" Bruce asked.

"Just Stark Industries stuff. I had to skip a meeting that Pepper wanted, so I made some things in the lab by way of apology," Tony said. He shook his head. "I take three things off the List of Epic Boredom and she puts two new things on it. I just can't win. Tony Stark, Nerd Serf." But he was smiling anyway.

"I'm glad that you managed to settle things with Pepper," said Phil. He liked Pepper, and he hated it when Avengers-related complications made her life more difficult. I should send her concert tickets or something to make up for it, he mused.

"Yeah, I worked out the rest of the apologies too; JARVIS helped me remember what everyone likes," said Tony. He pointed with his spoon. "I'm taking Steve and Bucky to a ball game, then Natasha and Bucky to a ballet. Bruce and Betty want to visit an arboretum but haven't picked which yet. Clint and I are going to a falconry demonstration." Bucky got two apologies, one for Tony's initial disappearance and another for the fight in the garage.

Phil raised his eyebrows at the choice of activities. So far Bucky had only left the tower for a few minutes at a time, clinging to the safe haven it represented. Bruce rarely left except for missions. This may accomplish more than just soothing hurt feelings, if it works, Phil thought. "That sounds like an excellent schedule, Tony. Good thinking."

"He's getting the hang of it, yeah, now that he understands how we like spending time with him," Bucky said. "And I'm sorry for my part in blowing a minor misstep into a major fight that must've been pretty alarming for everyone to walk in on."

"Yes, it was," Steve said quietly. Phil knew that the two of them had been talking over what happened. He suspected that Bucky had spoken with other teammates as well, after recommending that they review the recording of the entire fight.

Betty reached out to feather a touch across Bucky's wrist. "You're still recovering from a lot of trauma. We can make allowances."

"Thanks," Bucky said, then picked up a previous thread. "So ... flowers?"

That launched Betty and Bruce into a conversation about the best arboretums, which apparently had been going on since Tony proposed such an excursion as his apology to them. Bruce favored Mountain Top in New York, while Betty leaned toward Jenkins in Pennsylvania.

"Local, national, or global?" Natasha asked. "Because the one in Dallas is memorable."

"Wherever they like," Tony said.

"What were you doing in a flower garden?" Betty asked. "I thought you didn't go in for much girly stuff."

"Working," Natasha said. She had been stalking a couple of AIM botanists as they studied grafting techniques. "That does not prevent me from enjoying the scenery."

The last timer binged. Tony got up to fetch his pie. Bruce snagged another trivet and set it on the table. Then he doubled back for the pies that Steve and Bucky had made earlier. Betty went for ice cream.

"I built a pie," Tony announced as he set the pi plate on the trivet. Spicy steam billowed up from the surface, then faded away to reveal the fancy design. Delicately arranged apple slices played hide and seek through the crumble topping.

"Thought you didn't cook much?" Clint said, eyeing the dessert.

"Bucky and Steve and Bruce showed me how," Tony said.

"Huh," Clint said. He dug into Tony's pie. Tony cut himself a slice of the basket-top one.

Phil took small slivers so that he could sample all the options. Each of Steve's pies held a subtly different flavor and texture. The crunchy topping of Tony's pie made a marvelous contrast against the tender filling, and the candied ginger gave it a sharp bright note.

Tony Stark might not know how to cook, but Tony Carter was learning quite well.

Phil took another bite of truly delectable apple pie and sat back in his chair. Bruce and Betty shared a piece of caramel apple crumble half-buried in vanilla ice cream. Bucky told awful jokes that made Steve grimace at him while Clint and Tony howled with laughter. Natasha lounged casually at the table, not even noticing that the seating arrangement had left her back to the door. The earlier tension had vanished at last. The team meshed comfortably again.

No matter how long the count or how hard the game, it always comes down to this, Phil thought happily. Home safe.

* * *

Notes:

Tempering chocolate makes it strong and glossy. The finicky process is a lot easier with a tempering machine.

Eating meals together helps family bonding, but phone calls undermine that process. There is actually a game intended to discourage people from using their phones during mealtime. Of course for the Avengers, JARVIS can screen phone calls; Tony knows that if his phone rings during supper, it's not trivial. There are safe and challenging topic lists for mealtime conversation. The Avengers tend to vary between the two. The everyday experiences they discuss can get pretty wild, but when people feel frazzled, someone will step down the conversation to easy subjects.

People often hunker down at home if they are anxious, depressed, or otherwise having trouble; too much of that can make matters worse. It may help to coax them outside for brief, enjoyable trips. Bruce still doesn't feel entirely safe in New York. Bucky has been overwhelmed not just by his own experiences but by modern life in general. Their friends haven't pestered them, but are starting to look for ways to entice them out. There are tips for stretching beyond your comfort zone in healthy ways.

Mountain Top Arboretum, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, and Dallas Arboretum are three of America's finest plant displays.

Grafting techniques make it possible to fasten one plant to another. Ficus are among the easiest plants to graft, as they will self-fuse naturally if the branches rub together. A souped-up ficus appeared in Iron Man 3. While that movie isn't canonical for this series, I figure that AIM is probably still diddling around with some of the same concepts ... just with less success. Particularly if SHIELD spotted the problem sooner and Black Widow snuffed one of their leading researchers.


~ MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ~

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 07:09 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I check your updates on a regular schedule...loved how this one ended. Tony's apologies being accepted and planned, the "pi", and the Phil's pleasure and relief that things were being sorted. Family.
-songspinner9

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-12-19 01:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, I will definitely stick around. Probably re-read until you're ready for the next bit. :)
-songspinner9

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-02-12 03:59 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't know how to work this pnut i really enjoyed this story series and the footnotes. Thank you

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 08:27 am (UTC)
ext_132468: Photo of strawberry-filled daifuku (Default)
From: [identity profile] freshbakedlady.livejournal.com
This arc felt heavier a lot of the time--I had to save up parts sometimes to make sure I could stop reading on a lighter note. That being said, I loved the extra attention Tony got out of it. I often relate most to his issues and respond best to his preferred reassurances. The moments of him leaning up against Phil and the praise he gets hit me right where I need it. Seeing the others teaching him gently and patiently at the end here was particularly satisfying.

I continue to love your footnotes. I've found some of the psychological links really helpful when I have recognized one of my own issues in the story at one time or another. It seemed like this arc had more lighthearted notes than usual--recipes and toys and such--which was a nice balance for the heavier material.

Most of all, I loved loved loved the attention paid to JARVIS. I'm always a sucker for some bot and AI love. I really liked how you handled issues of self-harm and self-worth in someone who isn't likely to have a crying breakdown or be visibly harmed the way a human/organic being potentially would. In future stories, I would love to see more of this, especially a look at how Tony and Phil, as well as any other family members, comfort and reassure JARVIS, particularly in light of his sometimes limited or unconventional capacities for physical interaction.

I look forward to any and all stories in this 'verse. I regularly reread older arcs when I need industrial-strength comfort. (AO3's download ability is great for this and I'm really glad you mirror over there, even though I read here normally.)

--Joyce

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 08:35 am (UTC)
lostcloud: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lostcloud
I love how it ends with a happy note and some steps forward in the right direction for pretty much everybody! This arc felt like a monster, but I looked forward to every chapter to see how Coulson would stretch the Avengers emotional borders, and encourage them all to take their own steps while at the same time getting help of his own from the very same people that he's helping!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 12:35 pm (UTC)
jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jeshyr
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I loved almost everything about this story! The fact that it dealt with something that's really hard for me - disagreement between people who love each other and making up and forgiveness - so I found it challenging to read at times but always interesting and fun and knowing that it would have a positive ending helped a lot :)

Favourite bits included the way you do Jarvis, your awesome annotated footnotes, the way you reply to comments I leave, and the little "geek" touches like the Pi plate!

I have set up my tracking so it notifies me whenever you post something with the tag 'fiction' so I won't miss anything in future. Thanks again for such awesome writing - it's shared a lot of happiness.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 01:45 pm (UTC)
sherrineko: Hello Kitty as Adam Ant (Default)
From: [personal profile] sherrineko
Oh no! Whatever will I do without my early morning reading sessions? Waking up to a new chapter has gotten to be a regular part of my schedule! Ah well, looks like I'll just have to reread while I wait for more! Maybe something Bruce/Hulk-centric next? Or wee tiny Thor? I bet he'd be an adorable child... Or else a huge pain in the butt!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 02:22 pm (UTC)
pheylan: (Coulson)
From: [personal profile] pheylan
I haven't commented in a while, but I'm still reading this series and still enjoying it immensely. Just wanted to say that a friend of mine got married at the Dallas Arboretum a couple of months ago. The place is just amazing and made a beautiful backdrop for the wedding.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 03:38 pm (UTC)
jimpage363: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jimpage363
This was such a lovely ending for this story. Tony is starting to get it, Bucky is also coming to terms with his new world and Phil is so contented with his kids.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love, love, love this series. I truly do. I greatly enjoyed all the personal interactions in this story, especially between Tony and Phil, and Tony and Bucky.

I am looking forward to the next part in the series, but I can wait patiently for it. I do hope that (somewhere) in the series you will address an observation made by Phil (in a previous story, I think) that Steve is most likely demi-sexual. I'd love to see a story focussed on Steve dealing with that.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 06:42 pm (UTC)
madame_maya: (Demyx is awesome okay)
From: [personal profile] madame_maya
Alright, I've never commented on this, but now seems the time.

I LOVE this story. Not just for the characters, but because a lot of the stuff you write about helps me personally. I'm mentally different (I have Aspergers, a kind of Autism), I'm Asexual, I'm currently sometimes-suicidally despressed, I'm a near shut in with stranger anxieties, and mom Does Not Get It. Reading about all these awesome characters needing help with THEIR issues but still managing to save the world is wonderful for me, not to mention the links and notes you put in the bottom.

I'm now less depressed than I was, not in small part thanks to this story; it made me feel okay about getting medical treatment for my depression and I'm now a good quarter less suicidal than I was six months ago, plus I'm not as uncomfortable asking for what I need. So, thank you. I hope it continues, it's a fantastic story and you're a fantastic person. And I'm going to be embarrassed as heck reading this back, I'm sure, but oh well. You probably get the point, despite my lack of eloquence.

Also, thank you for linking to that Shades of A story you recced a little while ago; new favorite online comic/comic author, thank you muchly.
Edited Date: 2013-12-18 06:43 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-18 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love this whole series! I find myself looking forward to reading on update days on my way home. Thank you for writing such a wonderful take on these characters. When you say the next story isn't finished, that means you're working on it, right? Definitely not rushing you, just hoping my favorite series isn't going on a long hiatus!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 12:00 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Awww. I am glad everyone is feeling better, but I am so sad to see this story end. It's like my favorite books, I don't want to turn the last page. Well, looks like it is time to go re-read the series, until next time. Thank you for writing this.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 01:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I absolutely adored this instalment! It was very fulfilling, especially the end. I love the way that you show how each of the characters grow on their own and together. I can't wait to see where you're going to go next, and I'm absolutely going to stick around!
-A

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 02:31 am (UTC)
thnidu: warm red heart on orange streaked background (heart)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Aww. and Wow. And Sighhh (happy). And (soft feeling of relief and comfort that it's ended happily on this warm, cozy note).

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 04:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love that you've still considered exactly how Tony thinks even when doing something that is totally out of hi skill set. That he 'built' the pie instead of making one was a really good characterisation.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 06:10 am (UTC)
dont_panic42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dont_panic42
This was lovely. Thank you. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 07:09 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Natasha with her back to the door- that just kills me, because that's something I know is major for her, and everyone's home safe. YES! This one was a home run (they all are, but this one, so much heavier now, yeah). Yeah. Awesome.

But I agree with everyone else. What will we do without our early morning reads?! Sleep or work on other stuff, I guess? *Wibbles* Darn.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-19 07:10 am (UTC)
chordatesrock: The Punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (detail) (Default)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
Relieved and looking forward to something new in this verse, TBH.

Fantastic Job!

Date: 2013-12-19 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really loved this entire story, and I hope you will write more in this series. You have a real knack for expressing what the team is going through, and I always love the fascinating footnotes. Please keep up the good work! :)

Awesome!

Date: 2013-12-20 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nyrasmith
I've been trying to keep up with you through the holidays, I'm glad you finished this story and plan to write more. This 'verse is one of my favorites and i love Coulson and the team with how protective they all are with each other. You can count on me to stick with these stories while you write more. I will be checking back regularly to see if there are any additions. Wonderful stories and I love all the characters and how they react to the situations you place them in.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-20 05:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have read literally every word you have written in this series and I need to take a moment to tell you how much I love the way you write. Every character is spot-on, every plot line engaging. I love seeing these disparate people come together as a family, with Phil's able assistance. I eagerly await your next installment in this 'verse, as I am certain things will only get better, and I am a sucker for a happy ending. You are a gifted authoress with a unique voice and a sure grasp of her material. Also, your footnotes are very educational for someone with a hobby in psychology, and as a manager, in harmonious group dynamics. Thanh you for letting us see these folks in a gentler light!
Darlene

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-27 05:15 pm (UTC)
natf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] natf
I am going to miss this series and loved it all.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-30 12:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry the reply is so late, I was not around a good signal for the past week. That being said, I love how this story ended. I think Tony's ideas for apologies are very well thought out. I loved every piece of this chapter from beginning to end. It was the perfect way to end on a happy note after all the hardships through the story. Like everyone else I am sad to see the story end and look forward to the next one.

Mei Mei

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-02 05:41 am (UTC)
syxmaxwell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] syxmaxwell
This series always makes me happy :) Even when it plays my heartstrings like dueling banjos :)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-01-11 06:52 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank was awesome
The Syx Approves

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-09 02:51 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I've caught up. :) good resolution.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-10 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to your series. Your focus on the characters caring for and about each other makes this a delight to read. Also, I really get a lot out of the notes and links you put at the end of each chapter. I know it must take a lot of work, so know that it's appreciated. Thank you for sharing this.

I really like the growing relationships between Phil and JARVIS, and between Bucky and Tony. I especially like the way you focus on the way people can be physically intimate without having to involve sex in the matter.

Thanks again,
Caroline

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