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Fanfic / Motion Practice

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Motion Practice is an Alternate Universe Fic series by the_wordbutler, which takes Marvel characters — primarily the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of the Avengers and SHIELD — and places them in a mundane Law Procedural setting.

Nick Fury is District Attorney in the fictional Suffolk County, somewhere in the Midwest, with Maria Hill, Phil Coulson, and the Avengers as his assistants, and various other familiar faces as interns and staffers. Like every legal drama with sympathetic prosecutors, there's that one defense lawyer who will stop at nothing to get his rich clients acquitted, and in this case it's Loki Laufeyson.


The personal lives and relationship dramas of the characters also get quite a bit of focus.

The series currently consists of seven major works (over 100,000 words each) and numerous shorter side works.

The major works are:

  1. Motion Practice: "When Clint Barton takes a job prosecuting traffic offenses and DUIs at the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, he's pretty sure his life is finally going in the right direction. But the problem isn't the direction: it's where he ends up."
  2. Permanency: "Bruce has never been one to argue with the status quo. It's brought him a rewarding job, dedicated students, caring friends, and, in some form or another, Tony Stark. He wants this life, surrounded by the things he loves, to stay the same. Permanent. But Bruce, for better or worse, doesn't always get what he wants."
  3. Admissions, Interrogatories, and Other Discoveries: "Once upon a time, in a far-away kingdom known as Suffolk County Legal Aid, there was a really awesome prince by the name of Wade Wilson. Because he was a noble and intelligent prince, Wade really thought he knew everything he wanted out of life. And then, Wade found out he was super wrong."
  4. Diversions: "Clint's first year at the Suffolk County District Attorney's office introduced him to friends who became family, to a job he feels passionate about, and to the man he loves. In short, it changed his life in ways he never imagined possible. But nothing guarantees that the good times will last forever."
  5. Chain of Custody: "The concept of causation is an easy one: you track events back until you find the one pebble that started the ripple, the event that set off the chain reaction. Bruce can track his life back and back, from Detective Munroe's appearance in their home, to Jessica Jones's meddling, to a fire a few miles away, to his settled family life with Tony and Miles. He's not sure how the links fit together, or whether the chain might unravel. But that's never stopped him and Tony before, now has it?"
  6. Harmless Error: "October: the tenth month in the year, retaining its name from the Latin for 'eight'. Also, a month when Jasper Sitwell risks some small part of himself (not that he'll admit it) and Maria Hill acts on an impulse she's usually better at controlling. January: the first month of the year, taking its name from Janus, the god of doorways. Also, a month when literally everything changes. But then again, Janus is also the god of beginnings."
  7. Sua Sponte: "'Call your brother,' Bruce says, and a few days later, Barney appears on their doorstep. Clint'd always warned Phil that Barney might cause them trouble someday. Might pop back up, out of the ashes, armed with heavy baggage and ready to drag everyone he loved down with him. But despite all these warnings-these near-promises whispered in the dead of night-Phil's never really believed his husband. At least, until now."

Motion Practice series on AO3

This work provides examples of:

  • Alternate Universe Fic: Contextual Reassignment subtype. All the characters you love, but they're lawyers instead of superheroes.
  • Amoral Attorney: Loki Laufeyson.
  • Cast Full of Gay: The flagship pairings of the series, featured in five of the seven major stories, are Clint Barton/Phil Coulson and Bruce Banner/Tony Stark, with a disproportionate number of slash and femslash ships (Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers, Pepper Potts/Natasha Romanov, etc.) in the supporting cast as well. By the time Jasper Sitwell and Maria Hill get together, in the only het relationship to be the focus of a major story, the series is lampshading it, with one of Sitwell's out-of-town sisters teasing that she wouldn't have been surprised if he'd turned out to be gay because there's apparently something in the water in Suffolk County.
  • Advertisement:
  • Character Tics: At least once a story, someone will roll their lips together to express (or suppress) an emotion.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Wade Wilson is a legal aid lawyer with no brain->mouth filter and no dress sense.
  • Fictional Province: The series is set in the fictional Suffolk County, somewhere in the Midwest. The stories themselves are deliberately vague about where Suffolk County is, exactly; Word of God says it's in a fictional state carved out of parts of south-eastern Nebraska and north-eastern Kansas.
  • Flash Forward: "Judicial Conduct", which focusses on the Suffolk County judges, ends with a flash forward to 2019 and "newly minted Judge Phillip J. Coulson".
  • Foster Kid: There are several in the stories featuring Bruce Banner, whose legal focus is child protection, and particularly in Permanency and Chain of Custody, where he takes on foster children himself. He's a good foster parent; some of the others we hear about, less so.
  • Happily Married: Steve and Bucky. Most of the other couples are mainly happy, but not immune from drama.
  • Hollywood Law: Every story with a significant amount of legal action in it has a disclaimer noting that the legal processes depicted may have been altered for the sake of drama, and should not be relied on as having any resemblance to real life. Some individual chapters have notes pointing out specific instances (such as the investigation in Harmless Error being tweaked to give the main characters more to do than sit back and wait for the results).
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the major stories are named after legal terms.
  • Office Romance: A mainstay of the series. As of Harmless Error, pretty much everyone in the DA's office is paired up with another denizen of the Suffolk County Legal Complex.
  • Ominous Legal Phrase Title: Played with; the full-length works all have legal phrase titles, but most of them aren't all that ominous. This suits the fact that, although the stories revolve around a cast of lawyers, they tend to be as much about the characters' tangled private lives as about legal thriller stuff.
  • Scrapbook Story: "The Eight-Hour Postponement" is told entirely in text messages.
  • Shout-Out: When the MPU version of Robert Gonzales, Edward James Olmos's character in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., turns up in Sua Sponte, he has a family composed of characters from Battlestar Galactica.
  • Side Bet:
    • Whatever the actual or rumored relationship drama, Tony Stark can be found running a betting pool on the outcome. In Harmless Error, after Maria Hill learns that he's running a pool on if and when she'll invite Jasper Sitwell to move in with her, she chooses her moment according to who she'd rather see win the pool.
    • "Judicial Conduct" reveals that the judges' lounge usually has its own betting pool running, with Judge Ilsa Smithe in charge of it.
  • "Stuck at the Airport" Plot: In "The Eight-Hour Postponement", bad weather strands a group of travelers at an airport for eight hours, leaving Bruce as the responsible adult for a small child, two teenagers, and Tony Stark.