Chapter 11

Nov. 24th, 2015 01:09 pm
Full of Grace chapter 11 update: Can’t Help Falling In Love

In which there is a blanket fort, a renegotiation of terms, and the aftermath of a mission gone right. 
There’s also maybe some progress on the theme that was the original entire premise of the first fic in this series, Ora Pro Nobis: why James remembers a tragic love story with a long-past Natasha, but she does not remember ever having known him.  (That’s the thing with writing epic-length stories: I got themes, I know I do, but damned if I can remember to work them back in.)

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.

James, not driving, had the freedom to turn around and actually watch the explosion face-on. He startled her by letting out a whoop; she had to glance over to realize that the noise was genuine high-spirits. “That was the fuckin’ nuts,” he said, yelling over the noise of the engine. “Yeah! Eat fire, you fuckin’ Nazis!”

He cackled like a lunatic halfway back to civilization, and as they swapped their gear out at the stash point and pulled on civvies to blend in enough to make it to the safehouse unremarked he was still in refreshingly high spirits. “Fuck yeah,” he said, apropos of nothing.

“That one was pretty rewarding,” Natasha conceded.

“C’mon,” he said, “ain’t you even a little worked up?”

“I’m not the whooping type,” she said primly.

He telegraphed his next move so she didn’t fucking deck him, which she appreciated: he came toward her with his hands out, grabbed her by the ribs, picked her up and swung her around. She allowed a laugh, then grabbed him and shoved him against the side of the Jeep and kissed him hard.

He liked that, he opened right up for her and went sweet and pliant, and she grabbed him by the hair and manhandled him around. His eyes went dark, pupils huge. “Such a good boy,” she purred. They were at a shed in the middle of the woods, and it was the middle of the afternoon and there was nobody around for miles and they really should keep moving to make sure there was no pursuit, but—

She pushed him down onto his knees, and he stared at her like he was a dog and she had a treat— worshipful, hopeful, wide-eyed, avid. “You’re going to help me with this zipper, aren’t you?”
Chapter update on Full of Grace: Chapter 9, GI Blues

In which Bucky punches Steve and Steve headbutts Bucky and there are contract negotiations because reputation is everything. 

“And,” he added, “I had to give the location of my emergency escape stash to Steve so he could make it out alive, so it was just a clusterfuck all over. Had to give him my boots!” He gestured widely. “So then I had to use his, and he wears stupid boots, like some kinda idiot who never went through Infantry Basic. I figured he was with the Rangers, they’d give him jump boots, right?”

“You’d think,” Natasha said, amused. James was in Aggrieved Storytelling Mode, which was one of her favorite modes of his.

“No! He had bullshit boots like he’s gonna prove somethin’ with ‘em.” James sighed extravagantly, subsiding with a violent gesture. “I ask you. Steven fuckin’ Rogers. Never really did a tour with the Infantry, so he doesn’t really understand about fuckin’ boots. What a fuckin’ nancy.”

Full of Grace chapter update, Chapter 9: Don’t Be Cruel

In which many things happen, James is revealed to be both more and less human than expected, and Steve Rogers gets a verified social media account and takes The Official Winter Soldier to the burn unit. 

“Shut your mouth, you’re prettier like that,” Nat said, off-camera, and he laughed, a genuine ducked-head wide-open laugh of real amusement, and turned his face away to fix his hair. “Now flex, just like we practiced.” Bless your heart, Nat, Lakeisha thought.

Oh heck! I hecked this up. 

It’s chapter 8, not chapter 9. 

I meant to edit it but I clicked the wrong thing so I’m reblogging it instead. 

I gotta admit a large part of what made this fic get written is that I wrote a bit where I pretended Bucky was doing an Ask Me Anything and I made myself giggle like a lunatic for like a week straight. So having Steve sending him Qs on this fictional not-any-real-site has been making me waste enormous amounts of time writing them because I am twelve and think it’s hilarious. (I only have some of what I’ve written in this chapter. Maybe I’ll do a bonus extras thing at some point, or more will get integrated into the story. we’ll see.) 
I felt shitty today, so I wrote this on gdocs instead of being productive. 

It’s not a deleted scene, it’s not a preview or anything. It’s just, there’s a bit in the as-yet unpublished Ch 8 of FOG, just a detail, where Natasha notices that James still has nailpolish on his toenails, and remembers that she put it there. She’d painted his nails a different color months ago in an earlier chapter, so I put the detail in this one that he’d had her re-do it. 

So– this is the scene where he got this particular re-coating of nail polish. And it’s not plot-significant, I just wanted to spend the time. 

This is the luxury of fanfic. i’ve been contemplating going back to original stuff, but you don’t get to have this, traditionally, in regular fiction– just, to no purpose, characters spending time together and being themselves. And yet, it’s what people want, in fanfic. 

So, since I felt shitty, I went and hung out with James and Natasha. James was feeling shitty too. Natasha knows how to not make that a big deal. It has no bearing on the next chapter (which I’ll probably have up by the weekend if no other disasters strike) except to account for the detail of James having painted toenails. 

Gen-ish, G-rated, like just under 1k words (real short, for me!)

what u up to 2nite, Natasha had written a couple of hours before, and James hadn’t written back. He wasn’t having a good couple of days, she was pretty sure; something had triggered him, and he’d vanished. 

She’d been over at the Avengers Academy for most of it. She knew he’d been by, because he was the only one who fed Liho canned food and the old can was gone and a new one started, but no people-food had been missing, so she rather thought he’d only stopped by to feed the cat. He hadn’t done any laundry, and she didn’t think he’d taken or left any clothing.

He had put away the dishes she’d left in the drying rack, which was an amusing detail.

She wasn’t going to text him again. She’d resigned herself to not hearing from him, and had started making dinner for just herself, when her phone buzzed. Expecting Jess or Bobbi to be texting her, she left it for a few minutes before she got around to picking it up.

i got no plans, he wrote.

There was no reason for that to make her smile. I was gonna make piroshki, she wrote, which was a lie; she’d put together a pot of borscht because it was easy and froze well and she knew sometimes if she left a note he’d eat something like that out of the freezer. She mostly lived off things like that when she was in town. But she had the ingredients necessary for piroshki. It just wasn’t something she’d bother with for herself.

I’m not good company, he wrote back, but if you need help eating piroshki i could definitely be of service.

I could use some assistance of that nature, she wrote, and got out the ingredients, and hunted down her rolling pin. Also Liho could use some attention, you know how she gets when I cook.

I can help with that, he wrote.

The door opened about twenty minutes later, and James came in with a canvas grocery sack and a wine bottle in a paper bag. He set the paper bag on the counter, the canvas sack on the table, and went back to the doorway to take his shoes and coat off. Liho immediately leapt up and perched on his shoulder, purring before he’d even touched her.

“Hey,” Natasha said, smiling at him. He looked tired, dark circles under his eyes, and his body language was jerky and closed-off. He didn’t answer her, didn’t quite smile, but his face changed shape a little, and she knew him well enough to recognize it as an acknowledgement of her greeting.

Without shoes on he moved quietly that she could only really track his motion by the proximity of the cat’s purring. He stayed in the room briefly, going through the contents of the canvas bag– mostly papers– then moved off into the other room. She knew better than to try to make small talk.

She poked her head in a moment later to ask if he was all right, and he had nodded off at one end of the couch, curled up with the cat in his lap. She’d had a suspicion he didn’t sleep much when he wasn’t around her, and this only reinforced it. He ate, she knew he couldn’t go long without food, but she was pretty sure he mostly subsisted off of packaged food supplements if she wasn’t there to notice.

It wasn’t that she fed him. He did most of the cooking when they were together. She just sort of suspected he didn’t bother being human if no one was there to observe him. It wasn’t a dependency on her, but it wasn’t healthy independence either.

She woke him up to eat, when the food was ready, and he snapped awake with no hint of grogginess.

“Everything okay?” she asked him, when they sat down at the table.

He nodded. It looked like he wanted to say more, but there didn’t seem to be a good connection from brain to mouth, so she just smiled at him and went back to eating, unconcerned.

“Good,” he managed, after a while, gesturing with his chin at the food. She grinned.

“I know,” she said.

“Sorry the company’s bad,” he said, looking unhappy.

She smiled and shook her head. “If you think I don’t know about that kind of thing, James– I can put the TV on if you’re self-conscious, but it doesn’t bother me.”

He looked relieved. “Thanks,” he said. She held out the ladle, offering him another serving, and he managed a smile as he accepted it.

After dinner she sat next to him on the couch and flipped idly through channels before handing him the controller and hauling out her nail polishes. As she’d sort of hoped, he settled on an old movie, and then watched raptly as she did her nails.

She nudged the basket over toward him. “Pick a color, I’ll do yours.”

He laughed silently at her and vanished to the bathroom, but when she looked over after he came back he’d washed his feet and had picked out a couple of bottles, and was cleaning his nails with rubbing alcohol like she usually did.

“Teal,” she said, investigating the bottle.

“Teal the Cows Come Home,” he corrected her, and she laughed.

“And pink glitter,” she said. “Oh, sorry– I Can’t Hear Myself Pink. Accent nail?”

“Topcoat,” he said. “Just on the big ones. Maybe just a stripe.”

“You have excellent taste,” she said, and set to work.

Once his nails were dry, he went and took a shower. He came out tousled and pink and with his face a lot more mobile. He sat next to her and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “You feel better?” she asked.

He settled next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders, and she leaned on him. “Yeah,” he said. “Now I do.”
Thank you kindly! I feel like that story’s getting off to a really slow start. The stuff I’m posting is what I’ve written over the last months of not letting myself really work on it, and I’m posting it because I let myself work on it a bit so I kind of know where it’s eventually going to go– but the first bit is definitely a lot slower-paced. And I’ve been sort of feeling like I’m talking to myself a little bit– it could be that this time of year is less intense for fic reading, but I do think it’s also that there’s a smaller audience for the Bucky/Natasha pairing than for the other pairings I’ve written in the past– and it’s all compounded by the fact that I spent so long not letting myself post anything that the whole story feels to me like something I’ve been writing in a dark closet in an uninhabited house, y’know? So thanks for reading and especially thanks for saying so, it really does mean a lot.
I just have a lot of ideas, y’know? I spent a very long car ride last week making myself actively cry with some of these ideas, so, I promise it’ll be intense at least. :)
So I haven’t slept tonight, and that’s really annoying, and I’m too unsettled to do any real writing, so instead I dug up that damn missing scene.

And yeah, I never used it; I wrote it during the drafting process when I wasn’t sure how long Ora Pro Nobis was going to be or where I was going to go with it at the end. (And it ended up suffering, like all my attempts at writing fic for a challenge thing, from being really absurdly truncated at the end.) 

I wound up discarding the entire angle. But the image was good, or has somewhere within it the seeds of something poignant. Rigas Melnais Balsams, or Black Balsam, is sort of in the Jagermeister family, approximately similar to Fernet Branca; an intensely bitter herbal “digestive aid” type liqueur. It’s the sort of thing my dude’s grandfather drank. Traditionally, it is diluted with vodka– it is very high-proof and very bitter. Two parts vodka to one part Balsams is the accepted dilution. During the Soviet era, it was widely held that spiking terrible Soviet champagne with a liberal helping of Balsams made it just about drinkable, or made you incapable of caring, and either was acceptable. 

So here, have a salvaged scrap from a derelict storyline. Maybe I can rework it and use it; probably not, though, so here it sits for now. 



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