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," "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," "Byzantine Perplexities," "Up the Water Spout," "The Life of the Dead," "If They Could Just Stay Little," "Anahata," "When the Wheels Come Off," "Against His Own Shield," "Coming in from the Cold: Saturday: Building Towers," "Coming in from the Cold: Sunday: Shaking Foundations," "Coming in from the Cold: Monday: Memorial Day," "Coming in from the Cold: Tuesday: Facing Fears," "What Little Boys Are Made Of," "Rotten Fruit," "Keep the Homefires Burning," and "Their Old Familiar Carols Play."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, Betty Ross, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, JARVIS, Agent Sitwell, assorted new SHIELD recruits, Sean O'Toole, Pepper Potts, Dr. Samson
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Indecision, PTSD, nightmares, food issues, boundary issues, teamwork, SHIELD, rude humor, mental health care, facing the past, interpersonal dynamics, intrapersonal dynamics, emotional challenges, memory issues, frustration, and other angst.
Summary: The Avengers help each other cope with challenges, including Steve's nightmares, Tony's new sleep dynamics, and Bruce-and-Hulk attempting to get along.
Notes: Team as family. Competence. Friendship. Comfort food. Emotional first aid. Nostalgia. New hobbies. Hurt/comfort. Science. Music. #coulsonlives.

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.

I also have a list of favorite photogenic scenes from the whole series for fanartists to consider, partly compiled from audience requests.

Read Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7.


"Coming in from the Cold: Wednesday: Coping Techniques" Part 1


The next morning, Phil ambled down to the common kitchen for breakfast. The coffee machine purred to life as he approached, filling the air with robust aroma. Phil poked around the cabinets, trying to decide what he wanted to make. Pancakes, maybe, he mused. White or whole wheat? Plain or fancy?

Clint came in and started pouring a bowl of Honey Smacks. "Natasha should be along soon," he said. "JARVIS called and said that Bucky's awake."

"I hope he's all right," Phil said as he sipped his coffee. "Last night was rough."

"Yeah, I heard." Clint dug into his cereal.

Phil was mulling over different ingredients and recipes for pancakes when Bucky came in, flanked by Natasha and Bruce. "Good morning," Phil said.

"Good morning," Bucky replied. He sounded more like himself. "What's for breakfast?"

"Pancakes, I think. What kind do you like?" Phil said.

"I'm not picky," Bucky said with a shrug.

Well, that didn't help a bit,
Phil thought, looking back and forth between all purpose, whole wheat, and some kind of flour he didn't even recognize that probably belonged to Bruce. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, really," Bucky said as he sat down at the table. He grabbed a handful of Sugar Smacks straight out of the box and ate them like popcorn. "Yesterday was awful, but today ... I feel better, somehow. My memory seems a little more solid. It's like there aren't as many pieces wobbling underfoot like loose bricks in the street." Bucky paused, then went on. "Thanks for being there, all of you. It helped."

"I'm happy to hear that," Phil said. I should bump Tetris up the list of recommended coping techniques for trauma and flashbacks. If it stabilized even one or two memories, that's a definite improvement, he thought. Then he turned to Bruce. "What is this?"

"That's quinoa flour -- high in amino acids, stiffer texture, nice nutty flavor," Bruce said. "It goes well with the whole wheat."

"Hmm. I don't know if I want something with that dark a flavor right now," Phil said. He hated it when he couldn't make up his mind. It helped him sympathize with Bucky's occasional bouts of choice paralysis, though.

"Well, we also have --" Bruce began.

Just then Steve crept into the kitchen, looking much the worse for wear. He had faint shadows under his eyes and hadn't even combed his hair. "Steve, what's wrong?" Phil asked. "I thought you went to bed at a reasonable hour last night."

"I did," Steve said in a low voice, "and then I had nightmares."

"About the train?" Bucky asked as Steve sat down beside him.

Steve shook his head. "Just the war in general."

"I hate when that happens," Clint said. "It's like a splash page in a horror comic, sometimes, everything all patched together." He offered Steve the Honey Smacks. "Want some of these?"

"No thanks," Steve said. "I guess I'm feeling a little fragile this morning. I know I should eat, but my appetite's ..." He made a wavery motion with one hand.

"Missing in action," Bucky said. He nudged Steve very gently with his shoulder. "I could make you some cuppie eggs."

"Would you?" Steve said. He gave Bucky a tenuous smile.

"Sure," Bucky said as he got up. "I'll get the pan. Clint, I need eggs and butter. Do we have any of that Irish left?"

Clint checked the refrigerator. "Yeah, there's about half a brick of it." He pulled out the requested ingredients.

"Toss it here," Bucky said, holding out a hand. Clint lobbed the butter neatly into his grasp. Bucky divided it into chunks in the six cups of an egg poacher. Then he filled the base pan with water and set it on the stove. "JARVIS, boil this please." Once the water boiled, Bucky cracked eggs into the melted butter.

While the eggs poached, Bucky slotted pieces of bread into the toaster. Soon he had a nice platter of toast. He set two of the slices on a plate.

"Only two?" Phil murmured.

"I used to make these for him when he wasn't feeling well. You know, comfort food. I learned how to coddle him when he needs it," Bucky explained. "Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to kickstart his appetite. Don't worry, by the time he finishes the eggs and toast, he'll want something else."

You have nightmares, your body floods with adrenaline -- which tends to shut down digestion -- then you wake up feeling like crap, with a head full of nauseating images. Hopefully a mild, familiar food will help, Phil thought as he watched Bucky work.

"Good plan," Phil said.

The timer chimed. Bucky lifted out two eggs, swimming in a lake of golden butter, and poured them over the toast. "Here you go, runt," Bucky said as he set the plate in front of Steve. "Clint, Natasha, you want to split the rest of these with me?" They beckoned agreement, and Bucky dished out the rest of the food.

"Thanks, Bucky, this is really good," Steve said. He was eating slower than usual, but at least he was eating. Bucky sat back down beside him, and that support seemed to help too.

"Steve, I could make you a breakfast casserole. If I put it in a small dish, it won't take too long to cook," Bruce said. Steve nodded. "Okay, what kind of meat do you want?"

Steve shuddered. "None. I don't ... could we just not cook any meat in here this morning?" he said. Then he bit his lip. "Never mind, other people must be hungry, I should probably ... just go."

Bucky hooked an arm around him before Steve could get up. "Clean your plate, runt."

"It's perfectly okay if you don't want meat," Bruce said. "I know all kinds of vegetarian recipes from India. I'm just trying to think of things that might appeal to you right now. How do you feel about greens? We've got spinach."

"Greens are good," Steve said eagerly. "I love greens ... when I can get them." Phil suppressed a wince at that reminder of Steve's deprived background.

Bruce pulled a big bag of baby spinach from the refrigerator. "One egg and cheese casserole with extra greens, coming up."

If we can coax Steve's appetite back to normal, the additional energy may help lift his mood too, Phil thought. He suspected that Bruce had the same idea.

"What about pancakes?" Phil said aloud. "I've been trying to decide what to make -- help me out here. You like fruit in yours, right?"

"As long as it's not red," Steve said. "I don't want to eat anything red right now."

Nothing that smells like burning flesh. Nothing that looks like blood, Phil thought. Poor Steve.

"We have blackberries," Betty said, effortlessly picking up on the conversation as she came into the kitchen. "Make us some blackberry pancakes, Phil, I love those things."

Sometimes, it's nice to have another handler around, Phil mused, especially when your brain is frazzled from a stressful night before.

Betty added a carton of blackberries and a package of cream cheese to the small array of pancake ingredients that Phil had already collected. "I'll make some toast to tide us over," she said, heading for the half-loaf of bread that Bucky had left beside the toaster.

Phil set the griddle to heating. Then he whipped up a batch of pancake batter. He left the blackberries on the side, so that he could add some to each pancake in turn.

Natasha scooped up the last of her poached egg. "I am in the mood for fruit salad," she declared. "Who wants some?"

Everyone put their hands up.

Natasha chopped several types of tropical fruit together, sunny shades of yellow and pink. Then she switched to a paring knife and began delicately supreming the oranges. "JARVIS, is Tony likely to come in here for breakfast?" she asked.

"Sir is still sleeping, and shows no sign of awakening soon," JARVIS replied. "You should have at least fifteen minutes, probably much longer."

"Good," Natasha said, and drowned the fruit salad with an entire can of coconut cream. Then she stuck a serving spoon in the bowl and set it on the table.

Steve grabbed the spoon and dished out a helping of fruit salad, not bothering to wait for Natasha to come back with fruit cups. It seemed that Bucky was right, and his appetite was back on duty. Bruce finished preparing the breakfast casserole and popped the little dish in the oven.

By then the first pancakes were ready. Following Bucky's example, Phil flipped two of them neatly onto a plate and brought them to Steve.

"Smiley faces?" Steve asked, chuckling at the sight. Phil had arranged the blackberries to suggest two eyes and a crescent mouth on each circle of dough.

"You looked like you could use some extra cheer." Phil went back and divided the rest between two more plates. "Here, sit down and eat something," he said as he handed the extra to Bruce, keeping one for himself.

"I'll start another round of eggs. Phil, do you want me to do more pancakes too?" Bucky asked.

Phil had his mouth full, and just signed Okay with his free hand.

Bucky got up and puttered around the counter for a few minutes. Phil's pancakes tasted good, and Natasha's fruit salad was delectable. It's nice to have the coconut for a change, Phil thought. They tended to restrict use of it to when Tony wasn't around, because of his aversion to it.

"JARVIS, where is Tony?" Phil wondered aloud.

"Sir is still asleep in his bed," JARVIS said.

Phil frowned. "He doesn't usually sleep this much, especially all at once. He's not getting sick or something, is he?"

Bruce's head came up at that. Dropping his fork, he pulled out his Starkphone.

"All available readings are within typical range or better," JARVIS said.

"I'm still concerned," Phil said. That wasn't like Tony at all. "Maybe we should wake him up --"

"No," JARVIS said firmly. "Sir is very deeply asleep. Also it is bad for a system to be interrupted during defragging."

"JARVIS has a point," Bruce said. "It's no more risky to let Tony sleep it off than it is to wake him up. His sleep pattern is dicey enough as it is; let's not mess with it unless there's an emergency."

"Yes, but --" Phil protested.

"The penthouse is currently locked. I will not open the doors so that you can barge in and interrupt sir while he is sleeping," JARVIS said in a frosty tone.

"No arguing at the table," Betty reminded them.

Bruce reached out to lay one soft hand over Phil's wrist. "I am asking you, as the team medic, to let this go. I promise to keep an eye on Tony's condition. Okay?" Bruce said.

"Okay," Phil said reluctantly. He trusted Bruce's greater experience with health matters, but the situation still made him uneasy. Phil didn't have to like it. He just had to go along with it.

Bucky came back with the poached eggs and a platter of blackberry pancakes. "Betty's right. Eat up and make nice," he said, putting the plates on the table.

This time Phil, Betty, and Bruce got first choice of the eggs. Phil was amazed how much better a poached egg tasted with a tablespoon of Irish butter coating it. "Thank you, Bucky. This is wonderful," he said.

Betty started a very determined discussion about some enterprising young scientist who was developing 'kidney trees' to remove heavy metals from toxic waste sites. "It's still in the lab testing phase, but they should move to field trials within the next year or so," Betty said. "Everyone in botany is swarming over the results of the latest study."

"You did good," Clint said to Natasha. Then he explained, "She spotted him while infiltrating AIM, realized he wanted out, and did most of the work cracking the cell."

"The environment thanks you," Betty said.

* * *

Notes:

Sugary breakfast cereals are popular with kids but also some adults.

Quinoa is one of several exotic flours.

Nightmares often come with PTSD or depression. There are ways to stop having nightmares, or comfort someone after a nightmare.

Comfort food shares common traits. It's usually soft, rich, and associated with fond childhood memories. Enjoy some recipes for common comfort foods.

Poached eggs can be made in various ways. Here are some simple instructions. I like to make mine with butter. The Avengers have a 6-cup egg poacher.

Breakfast casserole is a very flexible dish, such as the Mini Italian Breakfast Casserole with spinach. Individual casserole dishes come in assorted styles.

Smiley pancakes can cheer people up. I couldn't find a recipe for blackberries, so here are ones for Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes and Smiley Blueberry Pancakes.

Coconut cream is a nutritious food. It goes well with tropical fruit salad. Learn how to supreme oranges.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-01 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really love the way they all eat meals together, and the team work that goes into it is getting very fluid! I also love Jarvis being so protective of Tony sleeping, it warms my heart!
~A

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-01 09:13 pm (UTC)
susanreads: food: assorted fresh vegetables (food)
From: [personal profile] susanreads
Oh boy, new Coming in from the Cold! *nom nom*

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-01 09:14 pm (UTC)
siberian_skys: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siberian_skys
I was so happy to come home from work to this. Thank you. :-)

OH, ironic!

Date: 2017-04-01 09:49 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Your instructions for supreming oranges come years too late. The youngest went through a phase where he wouldn't eat them because they were bitter, so I taught him to supreme them, and now they are a comfort food of his.

So, just the link sparked a GREAT series of memories.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-01 10:16 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
*happiness*

*tilts head*

Date: 2017-04-02 12:43 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
what's up with Phil getting freaked out over Tony sleeping in?

For someone whose sleep schedule is fragmented to hell, sleeping in every once in a while isn't all that bad...it might actually be HELPFUL....so why's Phil having a panic and getting snitty at everyone?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 11:59 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
you know, I'm going to try those 'cuppie eggs' myself...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mashfanficchick
I don't have time to read this right now, but just knowing that you posted it (and thus that it will be waiting for me when I get home) is helping me to settle emotionally right now, which I really need: it's been a long, frustrating, exhausting day. So, thank you for posting, even though I haven't even gotten to read it yet.

om nom nom

Date: 2017-04-03 09:00 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
... must ... not ... drool ... on ... keyboard ... :-)

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, partly because I <3 eggs & cheese, and because many breakfast foods do not involve flour and thus are "safe" (at least, those which are also potato-free).

Borked link alert: "Individual casserole dishes" has the egregious, unhelpful pre-pended http-tag.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-25 11:52 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
Poached eggs in butter sounds way too rich for me, but it would be perfect for supersoldiers.

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