ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," and "Green Eggs and Hulk."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, JARVIS, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanova, Bruce Banner.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: This story is mostly fluff, but it has some intense scenes in the middle. Highlight for details. These include dubious consent as Phil and JARVIS discuss what really happened when Agent Coulson hacked his way into Stark Tower, over which Phil has something between a flashback and a panic attack. They also discuss some of the bad things that have happened to Avengers in the past, including various flavors of abuse. If these are sensitive topics for you, please think carefully before deciding whether to read onward.
Summary: Uncle Phil needs to pick out pajamas for game night. He gets help from an unexpected direction.
Notes: Service. Shopping. Gifts. Artificial intelligence. Computers. Teamwork. Team as family. Friendship. Communication. Hope. Apologies. Forgiveness. Nonsexual ageplay. Nonsexual intimacy. Love. Tony Stark needs a hug. Bruce Banner needs a hug. #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 25Part 26. Skip to Part 28, Part 29, Part 30.


"Hairpins" Part 27


At first Phil had intended to stabilize game night with Clint and Natasha, whom he knew well enough try new things without risking the relationship. Rocky though life had gotten over the last several months, they had a solid foundation of trust on which he could build. With the other Avengers, Phil didn't have that yet, and their various backgrounds made it difficult to create a connection. Their reliance on him, as on each other, was still tentative and fragile.

Tony asking to join, and then bringing Bruce, had complicated matters before Phil quite felt prepared to level up the exercise. It had worked out beautifully so far, though, with only a few minor wobbles. Already they were growing closer. Phil was grateful for that progress.

That left just one more Avenger.

Phil sighed. He felt conflicted about that. He'd grown up admiring Captain America, and learned everything possible about him. Beyond the public image, he later delved into the classified details. Phil knew far less about Steve Rogers as a private individual, though. Not much had been recorded prior to Project Rebirth, just some bare-bones biographical data. Phil yearned to know more. He wanted to reach out and help when Steve was so obviously hurting, flung out of time into an unfamiliar and lonely life. But he wasn't sure what would really help, and what would just make matters worse.

Phil had always hoped that SHIELD and Stark Industries would find Captain America, but never really imagined getting to meet him in person. That had left Phil with all his mental defenses down. As a result, the initial encounter had been painfully awkward for both of them. Now they needed to move past that, somehow, in order to work together as a team.

"Hope," Phil murmured. He opened a fresh page on the Starkpad, tapping the Intelligent Search square. "This time, I don't want to get caught off guard."

"May I be of assistance?" JARVIS offered.

"Yes, please," Phil said, smiling. He had suspected that command would ping JARVIS for attention. The formality of the phrasing reminded Phil how easily JARVIS could hide in plain sight, pretending to be an ordinary program. "I want to find pajamas for Steve, just in case."

The search page scrolled to the side, making space to display Steve's measurements. Phil flicked his fingers across the body map the way he'd seen Tony do. The model spun in place to give him a back view of Steve's impressive shoulders. From the look of things, standard measurements wouldn't account for some of the places where Steve carried his bulk.

"That must make fitting shirts a challenge," Phil said. No wonder Steve wandered around in things that stretched taut over his muscles. It couldn't be very comfortable.

The screen brought up examples of Steve's clothing purchases. "Sir has attempted to direct tower residents toward several reliable tailors," JARVIS said. "Unfortunately Steve seems reluctant to avail himself of such services, or indeed, to make any noncritical purchases at all."

Steve had grown up poor, then joined the army, neither of which gave him much opportunity to learn what fit him or what he liked. SHIELD had provided Steve with living space, but it was a hovel. Phil felt outraged on his behalf. It's lucky that Tony managed to convince Steve to move into the tower, Phil thought. Getting Steve to take advantage of expanded resources ... might take more work.

* * *

Notes:

The nature of trust is that it entails a leap of faith, which enables people to take greater risks with each other. Trusting more leads to higher benefits, particularly in collaborative projects.

Self-awareness includes a distinction between public self and private self. Different parts of the personality are known to self and others. This can affect relationships. It's important to know your true self. While Steve doesn't like to make a spectacle of himself, he is quite consistent between public and private life. But Phil doesn't want to risk stepping on hidden emotional landmines, because he knows that people can be very different in public and in private.

Loneliness is a feeling of dearth when someone wants more companionship and/or intimacy than they have. It can affect heroes and other famous people, because fame has drawbacks. Steve feels lonely because he's lost everyone he knew, which hurts so much that it's taking him for him to heal enough even to try reaching out to new people. Fury really cut his legs out from under him. Loneliness is a widespread problem today. There are ways to overcome it.

Mental defenses can be used in positive or negative ways. This helps people resist persuasion and reframe negative thoughts. In The Avengers we saw Phil, who is normally calm and competent, quietly but thoroughly drop his brain at Steve's feet when they first met. It has taken a while for Phil to get himself back into working order. If he can't say no to Steve, that's not good for either of them -- but there's always going to be a soft spot there, because Phil grew himself around the ideal of Captain America.

Choosing clothes that look good depends on body type. There are guides for such things as t-shirts and suits.  This project thoughtfully uses customized t-shirt sizes to accommodate different body shapes.  In the movies, Steve often appears in clothes that are too small, because that makes him look bigger. In the context of this series, he does it because he doesn't know any better -- he has body dysphoria, he's not used to having enough money to buy things, and he won't ask for help this early. He's never really learned to pick for fit, fashion, and personal expression because it wasn't an option. That gets better in time.


[To be continued in Part 28 ...]

Another key point, though subtle

Date: 2014-04-21 06:51 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
OH, yes, another lovely post!

Phil and Jarvis are working * together * now, fully equal and bringing their A game to --

picking out a pair of jammies.

I can definitely see Tony casually mentioning, "Hey, my tailor's exclusive, you guys will keep him from being bored," rather than the more practical, and personal, reasons that some of the others would have to actually seek out a tailor. Black Widow has some pretty specific needs for her range of movement, Steve and Thor both make off-the-rack look like straitjackets, for example.

Tony wouldn't see how someone could be uncomfortable with THINGS instead of WORDS-- think about how much of his past experiences involve the other person throwing presents or hobbies at him instead of actually TALKING with him. It's completely plausible that he has to stop and parse out the differences between why Bruce, Steve and Clint each seem to just pick whatever's handy instead of going for a more personalized (often of necessity, also tailored) wardrobe. "They grew up with way less money than I did," is barely the tip of that particular iceberg.

Despite the small details of the scene, and its brevity, I /feel/ the dynamic between Phil and Jarvis is much easier, much more solid on both sides. Phil is definitely more relaxed and has dealt with most of the worry about Jarvis, and Phil's own lingering guilt and shame.

It also seems like the story is getting ready to wrap, sadly. The only thing that keeps that idea from being TERRIBLE, is, of course, that as soon as it ends, I can click the first chapter and re-read straight THROUGH.

Thanks for posting this. Next chapter on Wednesday?

Re: Another key point, though subtle

Date: 2014-04-21 12:21 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Blair freaking and Jim hands on his knees (Jim calms Blair)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Steve doesn't understand this modern world well enough to know what kinds of clothing he needs. SHIELD has given him wacky messages. He's figured out men don't wear hats. Parsing the communication of clothing without any context; every piece of knowledge he holds may sabotage him. Lots of what we in the 21st century know about men's clothing dates to the Korean War and since.

Re: Another key point, though subtle

Date: 2014-04-23 06:13 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: very British officer in sweater (Brigader gets the job done)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Erik is old enough to not count in that not hat wearing, having lived through the time Steve was on ice.

The clothes they gave him constitute a message, which I parse as "someone at SHIELD doesn't know the difference between "The Waltons" and Brooklyn and "I'm too Sexy for My Shirt is someone's pool pick for Karaoke Song Steve will sing.

Re: Another key point, though subtle

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-23 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-21 07:04 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Steve in khaki, Peggy foreground (Behind Woman)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
And in Avengers I think someone at SHIELD doesn't know how to use a size chart.

Size chart, LOL!

Date: 2014-04-21 07:47 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Oh, they know how to use one, know how to tailor, even-- look at Fury's coat. Either there were two leather dusters, one with adjustments for hidden weapon holsters and one without, or they simply tailored all of the necessary copies to fit.

Yet Steve and Thor are both stuffed into clothing so tight I could almost guess their religion? It's sexualization, but for male clothing instead of the low-cut stuff for women.

Re: Size chart, LOL!

Date: 2014-04-22 12:55 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: very British officer in sweater (Brigader gets the job done)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I've wrote about the over-inscribing of masculinity in several of my LEGO posts.

Steve would be a test case of the cuts of teeshirts. The Avengers had a lot of ass-cam work.

Re: Size chart, LOL!

Date: 2014-04-23 11:06 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: cartoon men (Egon and Peter)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Steve and Sam are secure, so they don't need to over-inscribe. They can grab skills as they see need for them.

And it was WWII that started men's sizing, though it's been expanded. There was a bad period when the low price point no longer ran large enough (Japan didn't think XL should be as much bigger than L as it took to get a long torso covered.)

Re: Size chart, LOL!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 02:33 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Size chart, LOL!

Date: 2014-04-23 11:44 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: cartoon men (Egon and Peter)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
"These measurements, they are not possible."

Well, when you get past a certain point the extra larging is assuming that there is gut involved in the equation. Steve's tshirts would look like the largest 'babydoll' to skim his washboard and not cause a riot in frozen foods.

(There is a fic with a funny scene, when Tony realizes that the Avengers are supposed to meet and greet and of course none of the men have tuxedos. He doesn't have Thor with him. The tailor nearly faints seeing Steve given the turn around time. Tries to believe there is an error about Thor's measurement. Is shown a picture using Steve as scale.)

Re: Size chart, LOL!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Size chart, LOL!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Size chart, LOL!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Size chart, LOL!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-25 03:53 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Well...

Date: 2014-04-23 06:19 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Pre-Serum Steve Rogers, shirt and suspenders (Sad Steve)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Steve was in such a target rich environment he was making people take numbers.

Re: Well...

From: [personal profile] librarygeek - Date: 2014-04-23 11:19 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Well...

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-23 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Well...

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-23 11:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Well...

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-25 03:10 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Well...

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-25 03:50 am (UTC) - Expand

Another hint about Phil's early life

Date: 2014-04-21 07:28 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Over on another of Ysabetwordsmith's posts, we got rather derailed, talking about how certain kinds of spying and subterfuge tend to come out of growing up in a disadvantaged group, like a gay or black person does.

It got me thinking about Coulson in particular, as in canon he's supposed to have served with Nick Fury in the Marine Corps. Nick Fury displays the same basic personality as every Marine I've ever known: direct, aggressive when they feel threatened or less than secure in a situation, and proud of physical skills over mental ones.

Phil is far more balanced in his emotions, skills and the values he places on others' skills. Why?

What if he’s just growing UP with someone who is a part of an oppressed group? It would explain his gentleness with the team when they act in ways which seem much younger than their physical age, especially. Given his protectiveness, what if he is the YOUNGER sibling in a family of two, the older of which has some kind of pervasive delay, or congenital health problem that made the sibling a constant target for the local idiots? Unlike Steve, it would probably have been something that prevented the sibling from retaliating directly.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-21 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is skeptic7. I love in the first story, that Coulson is prepared for Steve's entry with clothes and all. I am surprised that SHIELD didn't send Steve out with a personal shopper, someone who would explain clothes as camoflauge. This is how to dress older, this is how to dress younger, this is what a working class man in his 20's would wear, this is what a young professional wears to work. This is clothes for a night club with a young affluent audience. This is what college age wear at college, at leisure at parties. Don't try to figure out what high schoolers wear. Now if you wanted to look like a pervert .... This is what to wear to look like FBI, really its fun to let them catch the blame for everything.
this wouldn't get anywhere near dressing to express yourself, but it would keep Steve from being as lost and they have experts in this available, well they did have experts before the Alien attack on New York. Natasha knows all about clothes as costume to fit in a particular group.

BRILLIANT idea!

Date: 2014-04-21 08:35 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Your idea shows that SHIELD values Steve as an ASSET, not just as muscle.

Sadly, I don't think enough of the individual agents were allowed to spend time with Steve while he was awake and could make at least tentative friendships. Right now, he's relying more on the visual cues: SHIELD uniform, likely to be trustworthy, US armed forces, likely to be trustworthy... what the HECK is she wearing, and why is her hair both fuscia and lemon yellow?

None of those things make someone inherently more or less trustworthy, and because SHIELD hasn't really put any effort into helping Steve socialize (that we've seen), it implies to me at least that they really don't care if he settles in properly, just whether he'll follow the orders he's given.
Edited (typo) Date: 2014-04-21 08:36 pm (UTC)

Re: BRILLIANT idea!

Date: 2014-04-22 01:11 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Ray gotta eat him up with a big spoon (Ray with marshmellow creme)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Integrating Steve, repatriating Steve isn't their goal. They think they've gotten their Weapon back from the ice. He'll have a harder time slipping his leash if he can't blend in.

What we do see results from him being kept so close, he has a subtle knowledge of what is and isn't normal for SHIELD. He is primed to observe from only seeing a subset. He's learned some things just from being out and about; he knows that white men can slouch about, wear ball caps and even a big slab like himself disappears. He'd have had a harder time doing that in the late 1940s, without finding a bunch of college boys to hide among (you know, men properly fed since childhood).

Steve is very bad at following orders once he has reason to question them. He's part cat.

Re: BRILLIANT idea!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-23 11:19 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: BRILLIANT idea!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 01:37 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: BRILLIANT idea!

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-04-24 03:58 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-04-23 11:30 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Steve in khaki, Peggy foreground (Behind Woman)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
But he needs to observe to restock the mental hangers. The suit he would have looked to purchase if the Howlers didn't drink all his pay, would have little use in our day.

"Rosie, no tripping him."

"Sally, it's, he's, did you see him?"

"I saw a woman, and she will know, and there will never be a body found."

"Aw!"

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-08-22 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] book_worm5.livejournal.com
This thread makes me want to see a "Steve Rogers, Master of Disguise" AU. :-)

Re: Thoughts

From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart - Date: 2014-08-23 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand

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