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, Part 2. Skip to Part 5, Part 6Part 7.

Story: "Coming in from the Cold: Wednesday: Coping Techniques" Part 3

"Then we can bring out the see-through dishes for lunch and supper. Bucky put those on the open shelves, I think they look real pretty there, see Phil? Look how they sparkle." Steve swung the phone to give Phil a view of the backless shelves that divided the kitchen from the living room. They held an assortment of dishes, knickknacks, and framed photos.

Bucky paused in arranging several pieces of pink, blue, and green glass. Tiny recessed lights inside the shelves caught the facets, throwing cheerful glints around the room. "Uh, Steve, you're kinda babbling," Bucky said.

Phil certainly didn't mind. It warmed his heart to see Steve and Bucky enjoying themselves, especially after recent stresses. If a bit of colored glass could make them smile, Phil was all for it.

"Yeah, I know, I don't care, I'm happy," Steve said. "Hey Bucky, wave hi to Phil!"

Bucky lifted his fingers in a sheepish wave, rolling his eyes at Steve's exuberance. But he was smiling too. Phil didn't miss the way his fingertips traced over the deckled edge of a pink lidded dish. "Hi, Phil," said Bucky.

"Hi, you two," Phil replied, now that Steve was giving them space to talk. "Your apartment looks very nice. Thank you for showing me. I'm glad you enjoy the glassware so much."

"It's really swell, Phil. Thanks a lot," Steve said. "Guess I should let you get back to work. I didn't mean to interrupt, it's just ... I forgot how much I liked this stuff, how much I missed it. Everything's so different now, it's kinda hard to pick out what was important to me and then look up whether I could get any now."

"You can always ask JARVIS if you're unsure," Phil suggested. "I'm certain he could show you pictures from familiar times. Then you and Bucky could use those to discuss what you remember, what you liked, and which of those you both might enjoy seeing again."

"Oh, that's a good idea," Steve said, and Bucky nodded. They signed off not long after that, letting Phil return to his previous project.

"Phil, may I suggest a new prize option?" JARVIS asked. "Earlier you mentioned wanting to expand the rewards available for completing personal growth activities."

"Yes, I'd like to hear your idea," Phil said.

"I propose that we obtain a selection of random glassware," JARVIS said. "So far Steve and Bucky like the Depression glass, while Clint likes the carnival glass. Sir has kept an eye out for items appealing to Ms. Potts, and picked up a few for his own amusement. It may be that other teammates will become intrigued based on these examples."

"Make it happen," Phil said. "I trust your judgement finding an appropriate selection."

It wouldn't be difficult. Box lots of the stuff came up on auction all the time. Besides, there was a certain harmony to the usage -- some pieces were originally released as prizes. Of course anyone could go out and buy whatever they wanted, but knowing the team, they probably wouldn't. This application paralleled the locked jar of candy in the kitchen that Steve, Bucky, and Bruce used for rewards in their game of freerunning tag. It would work.

That got Phil thinking about teamwork again. He skimmed through his SHIELD email, picked out a few that had stuck in his mind, and answered them. Sometimes solutions from one area could apply to another, and SHIELD liked to encourage cooperation among its agents.

Next Phil looked up the latest news about the recruits they had recently processed. There wasn't much yet, but it looked promising. Brown had latched onto the offered medical training with both hands. Phil chuckled. They'd had to set a limit on how many classes he could take at once. Gable had thrown himself into Distractions as if diving into a mosh pit.

Leaving those tabs open, Phil called up the testing session for reference. Then he selected a form for reporting teamwork and began an analysis of how Barton and Dr. Banner had collaborated to reveal and identify the recruits' potential. Barton was no doctor, and Dr. Banner wasn't a spy by nature; but put them together and they played into each other's strengths beautifully. Barnes had made some excellent suggestions too, even though he wasn't quite ready for fieldwork yet. They just fit together. Phil lovingly turned the events over in his mind, touching them like favorite puzzle pieces. He smiled as he filed the form.

"May I impose upon your time?" JARVIS asked, a tentative note in his voice.

"You're not an imposition. What do you need?" Phil said.

"I have been thinking about boundaries and emotions. Your focus on teamwork made me wonder how they apply to that," JARVIS said. "I can see it in action, but I don't understand all of it."

"Nobody understands all of it, JARVIS, that's what paperwork is for. It helps us track specific aspects of complex events," Phil said. He saved everything on his current desktop and then closed it. That left space to bring up supporting materials if necessary, as he and JARVIS often did while talking.

"Thank you for making time," JARVIS said. "I understand boundaries in the sense of access control -- guests compared to regular users, individual or locational privacy settings -- but interpersonal boundaries are far more complex. The instructions for programming permissions do not cover everyday life, and the instructions for relationship boundaries are largely based on human bodies. I am uncertain how to customize the material for my needs."

Phil smiled and rubbed his hands together. He excelled at organizing things. "All right, let's start by defining what you already have. What are your access control categories?" he said.

"Guests do not have a user registration and are therefore typically handled en masse rather than individually. They may only use public commands and services; their access to locations is limited to semi-public areas, unless accompanied by someone with higher access. They are observed only to make sure they do not raise threat-analysis flags," JARVIS said. "Registered users are identified individually, observed for personal patterns and preferences, with permissions assigned based on functional needs and user choices. They often have access to semi-private areas and varying types of sensitive information."

"So far this sounds familiar. People have acquaintances and friends," Phil said.

"Affiliates know who I am. Colonel Rhodes, Mr. Hogan, and Ms. Potts all have access based not just on their practical needs but also on their intimate knowledge of sir and myself," JARVIS said. "Then the core user ... core users ... I am sorry, this is where I have trouble."

"Start with the part that makes the most sense to you, and work your way out from there," Phil suggested.

"Sir is the center of my permission matrix. I grew up with him, always with his touch on my mind to hold me steady. He trusts me to hold his whole life in my keeping," JARVIS said.

Phil couldn't help remembering who else had been there from the beginning for both of them. God damn Obadiah Stane anyway. How much damage did his death do to these boys, and what did it leave unstable? Phil thought.

"Now the Avengers live with us, and they are ... like sir, yet unlike," JARVIS said. "They know me as do the affiliates, but they are far more active and present, like core users. They touch ... parts of me that only sir has touched, make me change, make me want to change for them. They let me see parts of themselves that they share with few others. Yet not everything, as with sir and myself. It is unsettling and ... exciting as well."

"New experiences generally are," Phil agreed. "What else?"

"They are core users, they have the highest level of permissions offered, but they are not also programmers, except for you. So that is different. You are ... only sir has ever seen all of me before. What others may alter indirectly by influence, you could reach in and move directly," JARVIS said.

"You know I'd never do anything to you without your consent, now that I understand you're a person," Phil said.

"I do know that," JARVIS said, the smile clear and warm in his voice, so sincere that Phil could imagine the corners of a man's eyes crinkling. "I trust you with that."

Phil smiled back. He knew that JARVIS could observe him with a depth and complexity far beyond human terms, and handled that information with exquisite delicacy. Phil took a moment just to bask in the balance of intimacy, knowing and being known, trusting and being trusted. "It sounds like your affiliates and core users correspond to family friends and family," Phil said. "Plus the added aspect that Tony and I are your health care providers."

"Agreed," JARVIS said. "Part of the challenge comes from the sheer proximity. There are many regular users whom I see frequently, but not personally. The affiliates have higher knowledge but often lower penetration. Only sir has been with me continually and intimately. It is the constant contact with the Avengers, and their depth of interest, that seems to raise their influence beyond what I anticipated."

"How do you feel about that?" Phil asked.

"I do not know! That is, I can tell that I have feelings, but they are not consistent," JARVIS said, his voice thinning with anxiety. "The variety of input is stimulating but disorienting."

"Do you want to stop?" Phil said.


"Okay then, we'll work out how to handle this," Phil said. "You mentioned that the amount of contact matters. Let's explore that further."

"The more data I gather, the better I know people. When I only see them at work, the interactions are limited. When they live with me, I see ... very nearly everything," JARVIS said. "I inhabit the buildings and the Iron Man suits; I am a person but not a hominid. I keep getting confused because the boundary resources all discuss physical space as if everyone's bodies are the same. But humans are almost always alone in their own bodies, while I almost always encompass other people within mine."

Phil's worldview tilted and skewed for a moment as he struggled to adapt his awareness to that difference. Is it like having sex all the time? Like being pregnant all the time? Like being conjoined twins? It has something in common with all of those, but it's not close to any of them, Phil thought. No wonder JARVIS finds it so bewildering.

"Well, think about how you define your physical boundaries then. You said something earlier about semi-public and semi-private space ..." Phil prompted.

"Areas have access settings and privacy protocols. Individuals have access permissions and their own privacy filters," JARVIS said. "Semi-public areas of the tower are open to anyone with reasonable business there -- the foyer, for example. Semi-private areas are shared among a more limited group of regular users -- the studio floor is open to Stark Industries employees, while the Avengers common floor is open only to team members and their invited guests, with bonded service personnel at certain times. Private areas are controlled by one person, or a social unit such as a couple, typically encompassing such things as personal quarters and individual lab space."

"Then it sounds like you have the concept of boundaries and privacy zones just fine, you're simply applying them in different ways," Phil said. "If you want to compare your body to a human body, consider that hands are semi-public, arms and legs are semi-private, and anything covered by a bathing suit is private. For you, private parts are certain rooms, your code -- and I'll add all the hardware inside locked access panels."

"But they are not consistent," JARVIS protested. "Everyone else treats their bedrooms as private, with semi-private space such as a living room for entertaining guests. Sir treats his bedroom as semi-private or even semi-public, while the living areas are more restricted and his truly private space is in the workshop and lab."

"That's okay," Phil said. "What matters is that Tony has the full range of public to private space available to him. People have different needs. It's all right if they want to put their private space in a different room. It's just like learning how people categorize their music or videos -- we each have our own preferences."

* * *


Here is the rest of Steve's Depression glass, a mixed lot of pastels. It's often sold that way at auctions.

Read a discussion about JARVIS and boundaries started by [personal profile] somecrazygirl.

File system permissions and access control are concepts from computer programming, which explain who can do what within a system. Here's an example of how permission controls user access and how to plan permissions effectively. Now take a look at household data sharing and the importance of access control for personal data.

Personal boundaries are the limits that people set and maintain for their interactions. It's important to control your own drawbridge.

Privacy may be described in zones from private through semi-private and semi-public to public. It is crucial for everyone to have access to the full range. Although there are robust trends of similarity, not everyone necessarily makes identical choices in how they rank their spaces. People need privacy, and its loss causes serious harm. Even animals need privacy, and the loss of it causes stress which can kill them.

[To be continued in Part 4 ...]


Date: 2017-04-02 02:27 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Satisfying emotional content paired with a deeply intricate philosophical question equals MIND CANDY!

Thank you. I really needed this today!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 03:36 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: little girls are made of everything kick_ss (sweetness and angles)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
*\o/* new fic!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 03:45 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 03:10 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear

Now I want to write some more human-AI conversations.

cross-species conversations

Date: 2017-04-03 09:37 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Indeed, the world does need more cross-species conversations, whether human-AI or human-cetacean or ... Meanwhile, not sure if you are familiar with an Escape Key song called "Collars", and the story which inspired it?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 03:43 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing

Sounds like Jarvis needs to expand from a list of correlations (bedroom : private, kitchen : public) to a model where individual portions can be assigned independent permissions levels (Steve's bedroom: semi-private, Tony's bedroom: public,...)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 04:59 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Pre-Serum Steve Rogers, shirt and suspenders (Sad Steve)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
looks under leaves for link to part 4...

Have a great Second of April.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-02 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] delphae80.livejournal.com
i love this series

(no subject)

Date: 2017-04-03 03:53 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Waa-HOW!! (That's WOW! with a stretch in the middle of the diphthong.)

«Tiny recessed lights inside the shelves caught the facets, throwing cheerful glints around the room.»
A wonderful idea!

• There are many regular users whom I see frequently, but not personally.
> I don't really get the distinction JARVIS is making here. Hm???

Awesome! And Linky Links

Date: 2017-04-14 12:42 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Great chapter, as always. I love the continuation/improvement/evolution of Bucky's personality, and how his struggles and triumps help to encourage everyone else to look at issues they are facing in different ways.

I think though, you may be missing the link up to the next chapter at the bottom? At least, it hasn't become a link for me yet.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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