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.

Read Part 1. Skip to Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7.


"Coming in from the Cold: Wednesday: Coping Techniques" Part 2


A timer dinged, and Bruce got up. The breakfast casserole came out of the oven, a beautiful green laced with yellow cheese. Steve took one bite and shivered with pleasure, his eyes closing. He nudged the dish toward Bucky, silently inviting him to share. Bucky tasted it, and his eyebrows went up.

"JARVIS, whatever this recipe is, please save it to my personal file," Steve said. "I would definitely enjoy having that again."

"Well, um, it isn't really a recipe so much as an algorithm," Bruce said, and then had to explain the concept when Steve, Bucky, and Clint all gave him baffled looks. "It's, you know, not something made the same way every time, but has ingredients laid out in sets and proportions so you can throw in different things. You pick an ingredient from Set A, then one from Set B, and so on down the list. Then you follow the production steps, and you get your output."

"Oh, we just called it kitchen-sink cooking," Steve said with a nod. He was a third of the way through the casserole already.

"Shut up and eat it," Clint agreed.

Phil smiled. He liked what Clint could do with a skillet full of random food.

"I have both the base parameters and the details of this morning's iteration on file," JARVIS said. "That recipe is robust and flexible. I quite admire it."

"You cook?" Bruce asked.

"Not exactly," JARVIS said. "I have an algorithmic program for suggesting ingredients to combine for alcoholic beverages. Sir wrote it for me as an exercise in artificial inspiration and collaboration. The bots have a similar one for making smoothies."

"Yeah, we've all heard how well that works," Bucky said with a chuckle. His fork clinked against the ceramic as he chased a lump of spinach.

"Nevertheless, it should be easy to adapt for cooking. We need only input new information to fill a database," JARVIS said.

"So, you want to experiment with algorithmic cooking?" Bruce invited.

"I am intrigued, but uncertain how much use I would be," JARVIS said. "As I mentioned, I cannot build an entire recipe, only suggest ingredients."

"That's what you can do now," Bruce said. "You give me ingredients, I'll hack out a recipe, then I'll try to explain how that process works. You're a learning program; you'll get the hang of it."

"How do you know what quantities to use? Or decide the method of preparation? Or turn that knowledge into a proper recipe?" JARVIS asked, warming to the topic.

"I dunno, I just ... um ... know," Bruce said. He curled into himself.

Betty poked him in the ribs. "Just spit it out," she said. "Nobody here will make fun of you for it."

"People always make fun of me for it," Bruce grumbled. "Nobody likes the guy who can show up everybody else."

"Um, hello?" Clint said. "We love the guy who cooks better than everybody else." He reached out to steal a bit of Steve's casserole. "I don't even like spinach that much, and this tastes great."

"Please go on, Bruce. We'd like to hear about what you can do," Phil coaxed.

Bruce sighed but relented. "Most people either cook from a recipe, or cook by heart," he said. "I can go either way. Also I can take a recipe, break it down, explain how to make the same dish without the formal structure -- or I can take a dish that doesn't have a recipe, analyze it as I go, then write down the instructions. Trouble is, the two kinds of cooks don't get along very well. Neither of them seem to like the fact that I can do both, and I never met anyone else who could do it."

"Jacques could," Steve said quietly. "People sassed him about it too, I don't know why. The Commandoes, though, we all thought it was keen."

"People can be jerks," Betty said.

"Well, they cut it out after Bucky decked one of them."

Betty laughed. "Good answer."

"Let's not do that again, though," Steve said. "No hitting. We've got better ways of solving problems now."

"Agreed," Phil said. "I like the teamwork aspect of this proposed project."

"I would enjoy exploring this," JARVIS said. "I am merely uncertain how far I could get."

"So if you need a patch, or a whole new program, we can make that happen," Bruce said. "You can write your own code now, I know you can, Tony told me. If it's too complicated for you, we'll just ask him for help."

"I can help too," Phil volunteered. "I know how to cook. I'm competent at programming. But what I really excel at is organizing things. If you two can handle the materials and the process, I can make the manual."

"Now that's useful," Bruce said happily.

"So is the Bar Monkey's Muse," Natasha said. "It is a very expensive program, but it maintains a steady trickle of sales to the high-end establishments whose reputation rests on trendsetting with new drinks."

"I'm not really into high-end applications. I'm more about kitchen chemistry. If we could make a program that builds healthy recipes, or shows how to cook whatever you have in the fridge, that would be great. Surely somebody could get some good out of that," Bruce said. He fidgeted with his butter knife, smearing butter over the table. "Then again, I dunno, maybe it's lame ..."

"That is Marketing's problem," Natasha said briskly. "You make things." She pointed at Bruce, then flicked her hand. "They sell things."

Bruce gave her a shy half-smile. "Yeah. That'd be nice."

By then everyone had finished eating. Natasha and Betty carried dishes to the sink, where Clint began washing them. Bruce swiped a damp cloth over the table.

"Come on, runt, let's go for a jog," Bucky said, patting Steve on the shoulder.

"Okay," Steve said. He following Bucky out of the room. They both seemed lively again.

Phil left his team to finish cleaning up after breakfast. He went to his quarters and settled himself comfortably in the den. The desk screen turned on. Phil glanced at the notification of eight hundred new emails, then swept it aside. Instead he opened a folder of teamwork exercises.

I liked the cooperation that I saw last night, he thought. We don't see enough of that outside combat, though. People will offer help readily, accept it sometimes, but ask for it rarely. I need to establish a habit of relying on each other, not just in the field, but all the time.

Phil browsed through the exercises, looking for those that required a modest level of cooperation. He would need to start slowly and build from there. Leaving the first folder open, he checked the recent activity for personal growth games on the tower server. Bruce had nearly completed a bingo on his card of positive coping skills. He had also made himself another card of yoga, or at least that's what the translation said; the original was written in Hindi.

That gave Phil an idea. He paged back to the Diversity Bingo instructions. The squares were filled with personal tidbits like "remembers first phone number" and "visited Italy." Originally intended for large groups, it could be modified for their team, allowing each person to sign off a maximum of three squares on someone else's card. It could even be played in pairs, if Phil swapped out the statements for questions of varying intimacy.

Phil spent a while compiling a good list of statements, then another list of questions. Then he randomly generated several cards for each. He added those to the team's archive.

"I should come up with a new prize to add," Phil murmured. "I'm finding activities faster than rewards. Hmm, need to think on that ..."

Scanning the list of exercises again, he found another that looked promising. The Picture Pieces Puzzle involved taking a famous image and dividing it into sections. Each person was given one part and asked to draw it in a larger size, without the directions explaining why or even what it was for. The copies were then collected for the team to assemble.

Phil thought it would make an excellent illustration of what happened when each person did their own job without consulting anyone else. He doubted that many of them would think to discuss it with anyone else. They'll learn, though, Phil thought.

Then he found a nice engraving of the Statue of Liberty to use for the puzzle. A quick trip through the graphics program diced it into pieces. Phil sent one to each Avenger, along with the minimal instructions. It would be interesting to see how they turned out.

Having completed the task at the front of his mind, Phil then moved on to his messages. There were now nearly nine hundred. "JARVIS, delete everything that is actually the responsibility of the person who sent it, not mine," Phil said. Half the messages blinked out. "Move everything that's a courtesy copy to my SHIELD-CC folder." That left just over a hundred messages. "Sort from highest priority down." The top message was from Director Fury ...

... but his picture had been replaced by a photograph of a toad.

Phil burst out laughing. It had been years since he had ventured into such spaces, but he still remembered the online venues where an offensive user could be "toaded" and turned from a character into an object -- in some cases, with their icon actually transformed into that of a toad. Curious, Phil tapped the picture. Instead of Fury's personnel file, it linked to a description of Rhinella marina followed by an article about invasive cane toads in Australia. Brought in to solve one problem, they wound up causing a new one themselves, Phil mused. How appropriate.

The message itself demanded an update on the status of the Winter Soldier. Phil frowned. It bothered him that Fury kept using the old code name instead of acknowledging Bucky as an individual. Phil sighed, corrected the name, and filed a concise report. At least Bucky was making good progress.

"Incoming call from Steve," JARVIS announced, coopting the screen with a video from Steve's apartment.

"Phil, Phil, look, the dishes came up from storage, I love these things, aren't they swell?" Steve burbled. He was so happy that he almost glowed, grinning into the camera of his phone as he scampered around the kitchen. "We put all these ones on the table, the ones you can't see through, I think they look great together, what do you think?" He turned the phone around to show Phil the table.

There was a sugar bowl of light blue milk glass with curled handles and a starburst design all around the sides. The jade green butter dish was simpler, no more than a few parallel lines accenting its sleek shape. They sat on either side of the little monax creamer with its American Sweetheart pattern of swirls. Steve with his artist's eye had effortlessly made a lovely arrangement out of the random pieces from the box.

"We thought these would make a nice breakfast set to keep on the table," Steve said. "I really like how they look on it, especially the sugar bowl because it picks up the blue of the stools, you know?"

Phil remembered how Steve had come home lugging a battered, ugly-looking table on his back, not long after moving into the tower. He had sworn that it would clean up just fine, and extolled the virtues of the formica top with a lip around the edge that would keep things from spilling onto the floor. Phil had been surprised by the glossy white, graceful table after Steve finished restoring it. The next week Steve had shown up with four hideous, rickety stools. Then he begged a tube of wood glue from a frankly horrified Tony, swearing that he could fix them. A day later, the stools were perfectly sturdy and painted white with blue crosshatches on the seats. Now Phil couldn't imagine Steve's kitchen without them.

* * *

Notes:

An algorithm is a fancy set of instructions. They can be used to suggest cooking ingredients, make recipes, track steps, or map the relationship of ingredients. It is natural for cooking to evolve over time. Here's a recipe for a computer-inspired dessert, although so far it just suggests ingredients that would combine well. It's also good for selecting foods to suit specific diets. Here is a granola algorithm.

Teamwork exercises include things like Diversity Bingo and the Picture Pieces game. This is the Statue of Liberty image that Phil uses.

Time management requires knowing what not to do. This Not-To-Do List can help.

Toading is a classic geek form of shunning. The cane toad is a major nuisance in Australia.

Depression glass is highly collectible. It comes in many colors and styles. Browse some examples.

The Macbeth-Evans company made a variety of Depression glass including this monax creamer in the American Sweetheart pattern. It's hard to see on monax, so here's a closeup of the rose pink, line art, and part of a catalog page.

See Steve's light blue sugar bowl and jade butter dish.

Here are before and after pictures of Steve's breakfast table.

A backless bookcase may have symmetrical or asymmetrical spaces, and they're often used as room dividers. In The Winter Soldier, Steve's apartment has some of these, so I kept the motif. People who grew up poor often like to keep things out where they can be seen.


[To be continued in Part 3 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 12:54 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Dammit, Ysabet, warn me before you go drowning fruit salads just because Tony can't stand coconut and is still asleep! ;)

Cooking algorithms. You don't have one for egg casseroles, do you? Although I might be able to dredge up my own...

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-04-02 01:56 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Oh, I needed the giggle. It was just keyboard-threatening. ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 01:19 am (UTC)
siberian_skys: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siberian_skys
I want Bruce to cook for me. :-)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Steve in khaki, Peggy foreground (Behind Woman)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Bruce cooking (and fetching things out of the walk-in cooler) is one of the ways he cares for people in my AU series.

Note, this work contains explicit sexual content and the series has diverging pronoun usage.
Man is a Monster Caught in His Skin

Re: Yes...

Date: 2017-04-02 10:45 am (UTC)
siberian_skys: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siberian_skys
I've been craving curry. I think I'm going to try the Chinese place that one of my co-workers suggested. I miss having access to Moroccan on a regular basis. Hopefully it'll hold muster.
Edited Date: 2017-04-02 10:46 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 01:49 am (UTC)
thnidu: X RATED Food Porn. The X is a crossed fork & knife (food porn)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I love this series, and this story especially appeals to me-- maybe because it's about comfort food, which is important to me.

Monax is a hard, heat-resistant glass similar to Pyrex, and made by a Scottish company.
Edited Date: 2017-04-02 01:51 am (UTC)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2017-04-02 04:46 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I am no cook at all beyond the level of scrambling eggs and adding stuff like cheese and parsley, so my comfort food is
1. ready-made or
2. easily prepared.

#1 includes chocolate in various yummy forms. #2 includes my basic go-to quick lunch: peanut butter¹ and jelly² on toast³, with (usually) milk⁴ to wash it down.

[1] chunky, all natural, no sugar. Trader Joe's: Ingredients: dry roasted peanuts.
[2] preserves, unsweetened. Strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry are my favorites.
[3] whole grain whole wheat
[4] low-fat: 1%.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 04:38 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Blair freaking and Jim hands on his knees (Jim calms Blair)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Sadly the modern consumer Pyrex is not still the laboratory formulation. There was a period where a bad batch (this was after the trademark was sold off) had a nasty habit of. Going boom in the cabinet. (Not something I experienced personally, but disconcerting. I'm hoping that at this point any that's going to detonate will have done so.)

Re: O_O

Date: 2017-04-02 05:21 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
And it wasn't that it was failing in use. It was failing in storage. If it failed while being washed, someone could have been frightfully injured.

Not to mention the hardship of it taking out the other cabinet contents.

Reasons trademarks shouldn't just go up on the trading block.

Re: O_O

Date: 2017-04-02 05:56 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Ray gotta eat him up with a big spoon (Ray with marshmellow creme)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Snopes believes the cases were micro fractures and tempering failure. I never personally experienced the issue nor know a firsthand party. There is some timelining issues regarding just when the switch to soda lime glass (tempered) was made.

I suppose if someone took a dish hot from the dishwasher and stuck it in the cabinet, that might meet the conditions. Who does that?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 02:20 am (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
It breaks my heart to see Bruce so unable to appreciate his own value. I am so glad he has people now who know it, and coax it out of him, at least in small steps. I loved him asserting himself in the "waking Tony" discussion. I'm looking forward to Bruce's and JARVIS's joined cooking adventures.

I can just imagine Tony's horror at Steve dragging in other people's junk--but I think on some level, he probably get sit. He does the same thing with tech. He probably just doesn't want Steve to think he HAS to, or that Tony'd not be happy to buy him new high-end furniture anytime.

On a related note, I am SO glad to see more parts of this. It makes my week every time I see this series is still going. :)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
That's actually not a formica top. That's an enamel top; I know because I've got a pastry table with one (the pastry table has a metal bodied drawer, with wood front, and a cabinet) The hilarious thing is that one you've got pictured, I could carry home on my back and I'm about the height Steve used to be. (the weight is all in the top, the wood is negligible.)

https://goo.gl/images/MBDfCC That's a formica topped table.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-04-02 02:05 pm (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
> > True. It's a point of contention between them. Money makes Tony feel safe. It makes Steve uncomfortable. < <

Which makes perfect sense with their respective upbringings, of course. To Tony, money was always "there," so to him, spending money means getting something he wants, or helping someone, or solving a problem.

To Steve, spending money always incurred the risk of not having it down the line when you *really* needed it, so when he thinks of spending being "irresponsible," he means that literally. It IS irresponsible to buy yourself anything not strictly necessary if that means you or someone you care about might die for lack of food/shelter/meds later on.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-04-03 09:24 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> He needs to stretch slowly and gently so he doesn't rip his reality tunnel like he does his shirts. <<

A delightfully apt analogy! In the moment, it was also an opportunity to verify that yes, my spit-take-override still works, as I had a mouth full of coffee-with-Baileys when I came to that line. :-)

Enjoying this very much, and the restored table is *beautiful*!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 07:05 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
*waves hello to yamx* Agreed! I love this series.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 12:08 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
heyyyy.. Bruce cooks like I do!! *does happy dance hand-jive* Not the the only one!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 11:50 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Of course Steve hauls old crappy furniture home to redo, that makes perfect sense! *glances out at mostly-painted shelves occupying most of the living room...*

I need to figure out an algorithm for my Iron Rations, but I need to work out more possible substitutions for the ingredients that are common allergens first.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2017-04-04 12:34 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
I wrote out what I have & would love input. The hardest thing to get around is the peanut butter. Any & all ideas are welcome.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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