3:What’s your favorite line of narration?

Natasha watched the explosion in the rear-view mirror and thought to herself with grim satisfaction that, very occasionally, her job was kind of cool.

I think I wrote the whole fic to have an excuse to use that line. Just because, yeah, Natasha is a dork and probably learned a shitload of her how-to-be-human-ness from watching terrible movies and you can’t not internalize the occasional ridiculous trope. 

4:What’s your favorite line of dialogue?

He laughed bitterly. “I mean, it’s never really gonna be okay. Nothin’ is ever goin’ to be okay again because that’s just not how the world works. It was really never okay in the first place, we just didn’t know any better.” He gestured vaguely. “But it’s okay for now, we’re in a,  a place, okay, and it’s not– it’s not a bad place. It’s an okay place.”

It’s more monologue really, Bucky’s talking to a camera, in the scene I suppose I could call the Blanket Fort Soliloquy. But he follows it up with You don’t have to be very okay to survive, and the conclusion of the soliloquy is that as long as you survive you can still do good. And that’s his whole character in this: he’s doing some pretty fucked-up shit with what’s left to him, but it’s all to a plan that he’s following as best he can, and he doesn’t really know how to choose things and he doesn’t feel like he has any choice but to keep on trying.

And he’s saying it in a video because that’s the closest thing to a POV chapter he gets in this story.

And I’m pleased with this particular line, this really fucking inarticulate line, because that’s how I talk sometimes lately, I’m really intermittently struggling with expressing myself fluently in anything but fiction (maybe writing is taking my words! maybe it’s clinical depression! maybe it’s Maybelline!)– and something that’s plagued me the whole time I’ve been writing has been that in theory I love Strong Silent Hero Types and in practice they all fuckin’ run their mouths about their feelings nonstop. And this is an attempt at a more naturalistic style of monologue. I mean, he’s still running his mouth about his feelings but at least this is more like what I intended him to be like. (For lols, see: my collected works since uh ever. On second thought, no. Maybe later I can do a hilarious ask on my Worst Ever Writing, which is actually astonishingly recent.)

This is for the ask meme thing about fanfiction, if anyone else wants to ask, here’s the post!

[And to the asker, thank you for your kind words! I am starting to feel really embarrassed that I whined so much initially about FOG not being among my more successful ventures. Is it poor form to edit those notes? I appreciate every instance of someone telling me they like it, because see above re: inarticulacy, sometimes it’s really all I’ve got to prove to the world that I’m actually good at saying things sometimes!]

And if anyone is like what is this heartbreaking work of staggering genius (right?!), the WIP in question is Full of Grace, in the Now And At The Hour Of Our Death series, on AO3. (I can’t do anything succinctly, why would I have succinct titles?)
New chapter up– chapter 4, in which a meeting finally occurs. 

Full of Grace, the sequel to the Bucky/Natasha fic Ora Pro Nobis I wrote for a challenge whose name at the moment escapes me, is sort of slowly taking shape now. I wrote a lot sort of in the margins as I was trying to squeeze out updates on various other projects, and it’s become a repository of many things I excluded as possibilities in my other MCU series. 

Its being written more or less in scraps of free time, formerly, has done both good and bad things for it– good, in that it has taken shape much more organically than I normally let these things happen, bad in that I doubt very much I’ve managed to prune out red herrings. I’m bad as it is about structure, but generally I manage to pick out themes as I go, and this is no exception, it’s just more… me than usual. 

Anyway. Here’s how the plot’s shaping up, as I’ve been absolute crap about writing summaries henceforth. It’s been an exceptionally low-traffic story for me, and I think there are many factors, but the fact that I’ve not sat down and described it accurately in any way is probably a big contributing factor. If nobody knows what the fuck it is, they’re not going to be interested in reading it. 

In Ora Pro Nobis, an escaped Winter Soldier remembers his name and much of his past, and comes to Natasha for help, since he remembers having an intimate affair with her during their mutual Red Room days. She has no memory of this, but helps him anyway, and finds that while no particular memories return, she does feel she knows him better than their scant prior time together would warrant. She winds up freeing him from the electronic trackers HYDRA is using to hunt him down, with some help from her friends, and they escape out into the world together. 

In the continuing series, we stay in Natasha’s point of view as James tries to rebuild himself a life and an identity with this woman who doesn’t remember him but perhaps cares for him anyway, and tries to figure out who he can trust and how he can keep himself safe in this unknown new world. Natasha struggles with whether he’ll even fit in this new life she’s painstakingly built herself, and who she can trust– and whether she can trust herself. 

An important supporting character is an AU version of the OC from my other series– Lakeisha, the PR girl, here never got talent-scouted by Pepper and is still working a series of dead-end jobs, but she’s still a genius. Just, here, nobody knows her online alter ego is really the girl behind the cash register on the convenience store night shift. And her online alter ego is absolutely obsessed with the mystery of the Winter Soldier. (And makes a fair proportion of her income helping YouTubers become stars. Especially attractively-haunted tramatized veterans with disconcerting Elvis impersonations.)

I have a lot to say in this story, and I’m willing to say it just to myself but I appreciate every single person who joins in for the ride and tells me so. If you like the sound of this, hop on board! 
but in the end you all win, because what got me through today was torturing bucky barnes some more, interspersed only with torturing Natasha some more, and i’m going to go back and keep doing that, and i swear to you the Hour of Our Death series is going to be a fucking goldmine of fucking torture. I can’t wait. 
It’s about the only thing I’m good at. What can I say. I embrace my strengths. Here, have a chunk.

Nick stopped dead when he saw the shadowy figure in the hallway. “Kid,” he said, “you havin’ a mental breakdown or just tryin’ to give me a heart attack?”

“I don’t mean to be a pest,” Barnes said. Nick flicked the light on and made a face; Barnes looked fucking awful, too-skinny and run-down and eyes like starved hollows. “I just, you’re a hard man to meet up with.”

“I’m dead,” Nick said. He considered that. “Then again, so are you, so…”

Barnes nodded absently. He looked really, really awful. Like maybe he was genuinely ill. Like maybe…

“You heard anything from Natasha lately?” Nick asked. If there was trouble between those two, he didn’t want to think about what would happen.

Barnes looked slightly stricken, then blank. “That’s what I wanted to ask you,” he said. That sounded like defeat. “She went out on a mission and said she’d be off the grid and it’s been six weeks.”

Nick frowned. “What mission?”

Barnes spread his hands. “I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t ask at the time because I figured I’d find out, but– there’s nothing. None of the usual ways I can find out. No one I know has heard anything.”

Nick thought about it, and went back into his bedroom to retrieve his phone. “Let’s see,” he said. “Natasha.” He had several communications with her, but nothing particularly recent. “She sent me a couple information requests… mm, most recent about three weeks ago.” He scrolled through a couple more things. “Sent me a stupid eyepatch joke four weeks ago. Nothing more recent.”

“That’s more recently than I’ve heard from her,” Barnes said, low and miserable, head down, no eye contact. “I didn’t–” He visibly composed himself. “She left of her own free will and I got no reason to suspect anything’s happened, I just– it’s longer than she usually goes without checking in.”

“For me too,” Nick said, frowning. “For me too. I had kinda been wondering but to be honest I figured she was doing something with you.”

Barnes didn’t look up. “No sir,” he said.

“Clint heard anything?” Nick asked.

Barnes shook his head. “Said he figured she was doin’ something for you. S’why I was lookin’ for you.”

“I don’t really… assign missions, anymore,” Nick said. “I have only unofficial insights into the activities the new SHIELD would be actively pursuing.”

“Tried them too,” Barnes said. “Bunch of ‘em are for sale, by the way. Your Coulson could really stand to do some housecleaning. I got a pretty comprehensive list of currently-active missions, staffing rosters, all of that. The only thing locked down was medical records and home of record addresses.”

“Huh,” Nick said. “Well, I mean, you are good.”

“It wasn’t hard,” Barnes said. He couldn’t even work up a good scowl, though. He just looked beat-down, faded. “I told Steve, those guys don’t got his back, but he doesn’t believe me.” He hunched his shoulders a little, and the metal arm whirred somewhere under layers of clothes. “He don’t know where Natasha is either, an’ he figured I was fuckin’ with him when I asked.”

“Huh,” Nick said again. “Well, guess I’ll have me a little chat with Phil.”

“Yeah,” Barnes said, “SHIELD’s not any cleaner than it was when I worked for it outta a cryo tank with an octopus on it.” He scuffed his toe against the floor. “Might be worse. Disrespecting your legacy, I figure.” He glanced up, then away again. “You want my source stuff, I’ll send it over. Coulson doesn’t gotta know it was me. So long’s he stays off the list that knows about me, yeah?”

“He’s not on the list,” Fury said. “I take care of everything to do with you personally. He doesn’t know who my double agent is. I let him think it’s a pretty girl.”

Barnes let a hint of a smile ghost across his face, at that. “I’d be pretty if I was a dame, for sure.”

“No doubt of that,” Nick said. “So, Natasha’s on a mission I didn’t send her on, you didn’t send her on, and SHIELD didn’t send her on, that Clint doesn’t know about, and she hasn’t set up any check-ins and hasn’t made any.”

“No sir,” Barnes said.

“And her nominal team leader, Rogers, doesn’t know her whereabouts either,” Nick went on.

“No sir,” Barnes said.

He looked so beat-down, so dejected, that Fury added, “And her boyfriend doesn’t know where she is either.”

Barnes looked up, at that, and there was alarm in his expression. It kind of jabbed Nick right under the ribs: Barnes thought he was telling him that there was someone else. Barnes blinked once, twice, and looked back down, perfectly blank, no expression but Fury still had the distinct sensation he’d just yanked the guy’s heart out straight through his guts.

“I meant you,” Fury said gently.

“I don’t know nothin’ about that,” Barnes said, hoarse nearly to the point of whispering. “You probably got to be human to know stuff about that kind of thing.”

“You’re human enough that it counts,” Nick said, a little sternly. Natasha had said something similar, not all that long before, and he’d chastised her, but he was never sure that kind of thing stuck.

Barnes shrugged. “About eighty percent,” he said, a little glumly. He glanced up. “Estimated. By volume, not weight.”

“You calculate that out?” Fury asked, skeptical.

“Nah,” Barnes said. “I’m good at math, but that’s not my style.” He scuffed his toe against the ground again. “There’s a whole big chunk of the Internet devoted to conspiracy theories about me and they did the math for me. If you go by weight I’m only like sixty-five percent human.”

“How’d they know all the relative weights?” Fury asked.

“I told ‘em,” Barnes said. He managed a shadow of a cheeky grin. “I hang out in that chunk of the Internet a lot. Makes me feel better about it. There was a six percent fudge factor for whether I was eating right or not. I weighed myself every day for two weeks. It was a fun science experiment.”

“Volume, though,” Fury said.

“That involved a bathtub and a lot more fudging of data than I’m comfortable admitting,” Barnes said. “I told myself I had to keep some mystery alive. Especially if someone might be able to reverse engineer something about the arm. I gotta keep the arm under wraps.”

“And you just… openly did this as yourself,” Fury said.

Barnes shrugged. “Sure,” he said. “I got a verified account, Natasha got it for me. The Internet knows who I am.”



September 2017

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