It’s Asexy April in the world of fandom, and while in past years I’ve had a relatively easy time finding lots of cool fic starring asexual characters, this year has been far harder. I’m not sure if it’s because my fandoms have changed drastically, or if Asexy April just didn’t get good advertising this year, but never fear. I looked back through my bookmarks folder and found a Les Misérables oldie but goodie to rec for today.
The Glitterbombs of Angry Queers is a series of interconnected fics about Enjolras, the asexual head of an LGBTQ+ activist nonprofit based in Los Angeles. As its title would suggest, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the stories in the series feature such slice-of-life things like Enjolras and Grantaire going to Disneyland, the gang getting stuck in traffic thanks to an extremely law-abiding Marius, and Courfeyrac baking cakes with which to troll people.
But that doesn’t mean that the series is entirely free of meaningful conflict: as Enjolras starts a relationship with Grantaire, the two of them have to learn the best ways for the both of them to express affection. Enjolras is, as previously stated, asexual, and Grantaire is allosexual. Note that I said meaningful conflict instead of “drama”: in my experience, fanfic stories with asexual characters tend to feature either relationships in which everyone is perfectly satisfied with everything, or stories in which the characters are unhappy about perceived “deserved” sex and break up with or “fix” each other. The Glitterbombs of Angry Queers stays a peaceful distance away from both ace stereotypes. Enjolras and Grantaire enter into a relationship with full knowledge of the other’s sexuality and sexual needs, and Grantaire is never pushy with Enjolras and never demands anything of him. At the same time, it’s still exceedingly clear that Grantaire would like to have sex with Enjolras and Enjolras doesn’t feel the same way, and the fic discusses the conflict inherent in this fundamental difference.
Enjolras smiles at that and kisses him in earnest. Grantaire has been teaching him what to do with his tongue—his technique is still a little messy, but he thinks he’s getting the hang of it. Judging by the way Grantaire tries to push Enjolras back against the mattress, he approves of the effort. He pushes back at Grantaire’s shoulders rather than let himself topple over, which only makes Grantaire kiss him harder. He’ll beat himself up for this later, thinking that maybe it’s part of what makes Grantaire try to slip his hand down the front of Enjolras’ jeans just then.
Enjolras immediately pulls away and makes a strangled noise that’s half protestation and half apology—at the same time, Grantaire remembers himself and recoils, looking downright mortified.
“Oh my god, I’m sorry, I—”
“Sorry,” Grantaire mutters again, pushing himself off the mattress and getting to his feet. “I—sorry. I can’t do this, I need a drink.” Without another word, he practically flies down the stairs to the tiny kitchen.
[….] Enjolras goes downstairs mechanically, thinking of things he could possibly say and summarily throwing them out. Most of what he comes up with are apologies, which irritates him, because really, what does he have to apologize for? He’s almost angry—until he thinks of the look on Grantaire’s face and feels overcome with guilt.
He doesn’t know what he’s going to do, but then again, he never does when it comes to Grantaire.
“Hey,” he says uncertainly as he walks into the kitchen, eyes on the shot glass that’s sitting unused on the table—Grantaire is drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. It takes Grantaire so long to respond that Enjolras isn’t sure whether he didn’t hear or whether he’s just ignoring him and almost goes back upstairs to sulk.
“You were incredible tonight,” Grantaire says finally, looking idly at the bottle in his hand. “At the meeting, I mean. You were practically breathing fire. It scared me a little. And I thought to myself: this is why you love him.” He shakes his head and laughs a little bit. “And, I don’t know, I thought—I thought that if I loved you, it meant that I could take it, you know? That if I really loved you, I should be content to have you every other way without it mattering that you don’t want me.”
“I want you,” Enjolras says, carefully ignoring the rest for now.
“Not the same way I want you, though,” Grantaire says acridly. “Anyway, I thought it wouldn’t matter, but it does.”
This discussion of asexuality led to some things that were uncomfortable for both parties, which honestly felt more realistic and nuanced to me than other depictions of asexuality I’ve seen. This realism is undoubtedly thanks to the author, who identifies themselves as a queer asexual person. Yet somehow this depiction of asexuality and the issues inherent in an asexual-allosexual relationship fit naturally into the generally fluffy and cheerful tone of the series—and don’t worry, nothing bad happens over the course of the series. That may be just what some of you need right now (I know I do). You can read all 38k words of The Glitterbombs of Angry Queers here on AO3!