GT: if i marry him won’t that make me your stepdad??
TG: youre planning on marrying my bro
GT: i don’t fucking know!!
GT: we’re dating, so it’s kind of a possibility????
TG: is he aware youre already thinking about marriage
GT: dude, shut up!
TG: nah man i think we need to get our calendars out and see about booking a minister
TG: ill draw up the invitations
TG: sweet bro and hella jeff cordially invite you to the unholy union of egbert and strider
GT: auuuugh no i don’t want to be my best friend’s stepdad!!!!!!
TG: think the word youre really lookin for here is stepbro
GT: you’re in so much denial holy shit. no wonder rose psychologically dissects you all the time.
—The Ace Thing, Chapter Six
After a year-long hiatus, the unorthodox webcomic Homestuck has resumed to its semi-erratic updating schedule. Although I’m definitely not as into the series as I used to be, I’m super excited to see how the series ends—ie: hopefully without all the characters dying—and more than willing to celebrate its triumphant site-breaking return with a fic recommendation. In light of this and in light of Asexual Awareness Week, today’s fic delves not only back into the Homestuck universe, but also focuses solely on a perfectly healthy relationship between a character that is asexual and a character who is, self-admittedly, not asexual at all.
The Ace Thing by NoBrandHero takes a humorous and frank look at the love life of John Egbert and Dirk Strider. Before I go further, I will mention that in this fic John, while still an adult, is fifteen years younger than Dirk. So, if large age gaps squick you out, you might want to avoid the rest of this. But as far as plot goes, that’s about all there is: The Ace Thing views events from Dirk’s point of view from meeting John, to asking him out, and watching him go through college. It’s delightfully normal with a dash of realistic drama on the side. Drama that is, surprisingly and thankfully, not at the hands of the differences in sexuality between the two. Dirk is, as he is frequently characterized, someone who enjoys having sex. John, on the other hand, is asexual. Furthermore, John is a sex-repulsed asexual, but this is never used as a tool to demonize or martyrize him: it’s just part of who he is and he’s not ashamed of it. And for all his feelings towards sex, Dirk is always shown as willing to compromise for the sake of John’s comfort. This is not because he’s a good person—Dirk is a shitty person, or at least someone who is completely aware of how selfish he is—it’s because he truly cares about John and wants him to be comfortable. I think too often it’s stereotyped that people who “give up sex” for their partners are making some grandiose sacrifice and that their asexual partner should be grateful, so I’m pleased to see that this is not the case in this fic. The two work out a compromise, openly discuss the boundaries, and respect said boundaries.
Now, those of you who are acquainted with the canon material might recognize that I haven’t mentioned something very important to most, if not all, Dirk stories. That is, of course, being Dirk’s sometimes younger brother, sometimes biological son Dave. This brings me to the second of the many things I like about this fic: how NoBrandHero handles the relationship between Dave and Dirk. Even in the canon material, Dirk’s raising method of Dave is questionable at best—what kind of brodad fights his thirteen year-old broson with a real katana while leaving traces of his puppet porn industry all over the apartment and not actually really being there all that much? Not a good one, and that’s exactly how their relationship is shown. Dave and Dirk obviously care for each other, but have no idea how to show it, and by the time Dirk realizes it Dave has graduated from college a year early, received a fellowship to get a doctorate in paleontology on the east coast, and is planning to move in with his girlfriend—all of which Dirk didn’t even have an idea of. The two have only been a part in each other’s lives tangentially, and it creates this sad, regretful sort of isolation for the both of them that is only really exacerbated when John moves into the apartment. This problem isn’t solved easily either, nor is it overused for dramatic over-effect. It’s such a perfect balance that there isn’t any word I that describes it better than “real”.
For all I’m talking about drama, The Ace Thing is 29k words of almost pure cute fluff and I loved every second of it. If you’re looking for a great fic featuring an asexual character, I can’t recommend this enough. NoBrandHero is also excellent at warning for triggering content at the beginning of their chapters, so please pay heed to those if you have any! Read it here at AO3!