For anyone not up on the fannish lingo, "Hurt/Comfort" stands for the wonderful creative exercise of tormenting the shit out of a favorite character--this is called 'whumping'--and then having your other favorite character(s) take care of him.
Often the whumpee is the hero. Almost equally often he's the Lancer, The Darkhorse, The Co-Hero and/or that one beloved character whom nobody else understands. But if he's popular, at some point someone is going to hurt him. Very, very badly. Occasionally even the writers of the original material, though rarely as frequently or as terribly as the fans would like.
(And I'm using 'him' because I think I've read a fic where a female character was the whumpee maybe once since I started reading fanfiction. Not that I read fanfiction...Okay, yes. Yes I do.)
I'm bringing this up because the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out recently (You may have seen it). And after watching, my brilliant and adorable 12 year-old niece, who previously said that Captain America was her favorite, has now switched her allegiance entirely to the eponymous anti-hero of the subtitle. Why? Because of the suffering.
Yep, she's within throwing distance of her teens, and she has already understood that, while horrible to witness in real life, physical and mental injuries improve the attractiveness of a fictional character exponentially. And the Fighting Man for Lousy Climates gets that in spades. Like the kind you could use to dig a deep hole to pitch him into.
I love my niece, and I love that she's been bitten by the H/C bug. I love that there's this wonderful fangurl in the making. I love that she will probably write fanfic herself someday, and I'll get to share it with her. I love how she makes me remember being a kid and telling my sister fanfic stories for hours on end without knowing what fanfic even was, and populating them with my fictional crushes at the time. And, yes, treating them mercilessly and loving every second.
I have a hypothesis on why, exactly, H/C is so awesome (and I'm sure especially awesome among women), but you should probably just read this instead. I admit, however, that most of the time I don't really care about the why. I just love it.
Like kittens. And don't we all love kittens?
Picture of Bucky having a very bad day courtesy of lastsongs at grande_caps; Picture of Steve's moderately-acceptable injuries courtesy of Swannee's Screencaps.