Fanfiction Fridays: Whoever You Are, Wherever You’ve Come From (This Is Where You Belong) by scribblybits

“Are you sure you’re trying to help him? Or are you trying to make his situation easier for you guys to deal with?

Skye shot him an offended look.

“Not what I meant,” [Mac] said. “I only mean that what feels like helping to you might feel like babying to him. It’s like, my grandmother was one of the toughest people I ever knew. Woman marched on Washington. Got the hose and the dogs turned on her. Didn’t take shit from anyone, period. But she got too old to walk on her own, so it was the wheelchair for her. And you know what she hated most about that thing?”

Skye shook her head.

“She hated that it was the only thing people saw when they looked at her, and especially that they thought it made her weak. I swear,” he said with a chuckle, “if grandma was trying to get something off the shelf and you gave it to her without being asked, you got a whack from a wooden ruler. Right hand to god, she kept one with her all the damn time.”

“Even if you were just trying to help?”

Especially if you were just trying to help. ‘If I needed you to get that for me,’ she’d say, ‘I’d have asked you for it.’ Things like that, or opening doors, or even just going down the sidewalk, they didn’t come as easy to her. That didn’t bother her nearly as much as people assuming she couldn’t still do them on her own.”

“So you’re comparing Fitz to Grandma Mackenzie?”

“I’m saying people don’t break. They change, but they don’t break. You’ve just gotta know how to tell when they’re asking you for help, and to not step all over them when they’re not.”

fitz-talks-to-simmons-on-agents-of-shield-season-2-episode-2After quite some time, I’ve finally become invested in the goings-on of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show. It’s been rough going at times, but I think it’s finally hit its stride, and it’s doing some interesting things with the characters. Out of the whole cast, it’s Leo Fitz with whom I’m most fascinated. The oxygen deprivation he endured during last season’s finale has left him with brain damage, which manifests itself in shaky hands and a speech impediment, and he’s been hallucinating a Jemma that helps him cope. While he always knows what he means to say, he can’t express himself as clearly or work as quickly as he used to, and his original team members have, to varying extents, written him off.

At the beginning of the season I was very concerned that his storyline was going to go one of two ways: he was either going to be Magically Cured, or he was going to end up tragically sacrificing himself to save the team in a “at least I can still do this for you” sort of way. Either way, it was going to be ableist as hell. Instead, the show surprised me by introducing one Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie. Mack did not know Fitz before his disability, and is deeply unsettled by the ableist behavior of Fitz’s so-called friends. Mack befriends Leo and helps to bring him back out of his shell. While that’s plenty of ship-fuel for me to begin with, the show itself made it even easier for me with a scene from a few episodes ago. Leo and his brain-Jemma are watching Mack work on something, and when brain-Jemma admires Mack’s physique aloud, Leo readily seconds her opinion. She looks at him, surprised, and he counters that she’s a figment of his imagination, so it was him thinking that Mack was hot either way. Needless to say I spent the rest of that evening devouring the Fitz/Mack tag on Archive of Our Own, and that’s where Whoever You Are, Wherever You’ve Come From (This Is Where You Belong) comes in.

mack and fitzWhoever You Are, Wherever You’ve Come From (This Is Where You Belong) tells the story from Mack’s perspective as he joins up with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. After Skye inundates him with all the introductions and orientations he needs to function in the Playground, they stumble onto Fitz, alone in his lab. Mack is intrigued by the young man and frustrated by his team members’ treatment of him. He takes Fitz under his wing, and while everyone is out on missions, they get to know each other, battle it out in Halo, and slowly fall for each other.

This is a delightful fic, and scribblybits’s Mack voice is funny and engaging throughout. The buildup to the romance is excellently done, and for good measure it’s got a blink-and-you-miss-it bit of Jemma/Bobbi too (my other new S.H.I.E.L.D. OTP). And speaking of Jemma, it’d be really easy for a Fitz/Mack fic to totally demonize her in order to push the two of them together, but scribblybits neatly avoids that. Their Jemma is just as fully-realized as the other characters, and doesn’t just exist to provide relationship drama for the two guys.

If you told me a year or two ago that I’d be able to find and rec a Marvel Cinematic Universe fic with an interracial slash ship at its forefront and no narrative ladyhating, I might have been skeptical. But here I am with this little bit of awesomeness—well, it’s 13k, so it’s a nice medium-sized bit of awesomeness actually—and you should really check it out too.

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5 thoughts on “Fanfiction Fridays: Whoever You Are, Wherever You’ve Come From (This Is Where You Belong) by scribblybits

  1. OMG OMG OMG Fitz/Mac is one of my new OTPs and I didn’t even know that it was a thing that other people shipped! Can’t wait to read this fic!

  2. “While he always knows what he means to say, he can’t express himself as clearly or work as quickly as he used to, and his original team members have, to varying extents, written him off. ”

    Is this truly where Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. has gone with a character arc?

    I haven’t watched the show, although I have many fandom friends who do watch it, and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but if this representation of disability is one of the places the show has explored, I may be forced to give it a chance.

    My uncle had a stroke and has been suffering from severe aphasia for 3-and-a-half years now, and ever since my grandmother’s battle with cancer including some aggressive chemo treatments, she’s had much more minor aphasia, but both of them have similar struggles of knowing what they mean to say but being unable to express themselves clearly. And I’ve never seen aphasia really handled on a TV show or film at all, and so this intrigues me greatly.

    The fic you quoted seems amazing too, even if I’ve never seen the show. The way things are explained/described… from the POV of how one should handle disability, I thoroughly approve.

    • I had my doubts about his arc at the beginning of the season (and I’m an episode behind so don’t quote me as gospel, lol) but I’ve really been pleasantly surprised by the representation both of disability and ableism- the latter in that it’s made clear in the show that microagressions (like constantly supplying words before the disabled person has the chance to finish their sentence, for example) are hurtful, and that the characters who engage in them may not be villains, but they’re still in the wrong. The show as a whole is… not the best television I’ve ever watched, to put it nicely, but I’ve been really heartened by the story so far this season.

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