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.
“You work too hard, my nephew,” Iroh rumbles behind him, and Zuko can smell the lingering rich scent of the roasted duck he’d had for dinner, and he can hear the polished clack of pai sho tiles rolling between Iroh’s fingers. “Come with us,” he says. “It is so rare that we stay at port overnight; you should not miss this opportunity.”
“I’m fine, Uncle,” Zuko says, and snaps into the next form of the firebending set he’s been practicing for the past week. “And I don’t have time for breaks. The Avatar has had decades to train.”
Iroh sighs, as he always does when they argue like this. “Zuko, an evening spent on shore will not hurt you. Who knows? The rest could do you good! Leave you refreshed and stronger!”
“Or out of practice. I’m staying here,” Zuko snaps, and then curses, because he’s lost his concentration. His foot has slipped and slid over the treacherous deck too far out, like a soldier breaking rank—isolated, unbalanced, and vulnerable. Zuko snarls and stalks five paces back to his starting point. He tries again from the beginning.
There is no sound from Iroh, and when Zuko next looks, he is gone.
In the interests of continuing to celebrate Asexy April, this week I’ve found an Avatar: The Last Airbender fic that was written for Asexuality Awareness Week back in 2011 for all of you.
The Prince Zuko we meet at the beginning of the show is a tense, overstressed teenager with more daddy issues than Tony Stark and fewer healthy outlets—which is saying something—and that’s the Zuko author Etienne_Bessette has captured for us. The story begins with Uncle Iroh interrupting one of Zuko’s intense training sessions. Zuko takes it the wrong way when Iroh suggests his temper might be improved by some “pleasant company”. Continue reading
Asking certain types of questions is encouraged. It’s the start of a lifetime spent gathering information one way or another. So Natalia’s starting point for this mission is the same as any other: gather adequate data. She likes her intelligence firsthand, like any well-trained spy. Clean. As far as possible, unsullied by agenda or ego. The trust that webbed itself between the Black Widow girls as a survival mechanism is being teased apart, as they grow older and more aware of their roles, but she’s not in direct competition with anyone here. Natalia sits in a crosslegged circle of teenagers swapping stories about sex; they could be normal girls, anywhere in the world.
Question: is it enjoyable?
The consensus is: yes. Mostly. And they touch their throats and smile at the absurdity of it, these girls, at the sounds and the stickiness and the potential for sheer awkwardness. Natalia ventures, leaning back on her hands, that it doesn’t sound all that fun.
“Have a go with yourself,” Anna says, to a general wave of squirming and laughter.
—from love is for children and other lies, by Fahye
April is Asexy April in fandom; much like Femslash February, which celebrated works with female/female pairings, this month’s goal is to celebrate and educate all and sundry on asexuality-related matters through fanfiction. Today’s fic is from 2012, but it’s a great example of what this month could be.
love is for children and other lies spans Natasha’s life from when she was first recruited into the Black Widow program until a little after the events of The Avengers. Author Fahye doesn’t draw from any particular comics canon, instead choosing to construct their own backstory for Natasha through what we know of her from her MCU appearances. I may be biased, but Fahye does a great job. What a backstory this is—it’s so emotional and so real that I almost want Marvel to keep their vague Black Widow movie promises to themselves, because I’ve already got my Black Widow headcanon right here.
Many times when a fanfic author writes a fic with an asexual character, the fic ends up intentionally or unintentionally sounding like an after-school special or an Asexuality 101 class. This fic never does, though. While Natasha is very aware of her asexuality, the author makes sure to emphasize that it isn’t “caused” by Natasha’s Black Widow training and no characters ever remark on how “wrong” it is or tries to “fix” her. Natasha’s asexuality is simply an intrinsic part of her, and it only adds to Natasha’s fantastically three-dimensional character. And while subtle, the fic also refutes various misbegotten ideas about asexual people: Natasha may not feel sexual attraction, but she can and does still form intimate bonds, albeit of a different nature, with her closest partners and friends.
At 30k, love is for children and other lies will take a good chunk out of your day, but it’s so worth it to finally see a fic with an asexual character that isn’t just about that character dealing with their asexuality or a couple learning to “deal” with one partner’s asexuality. Natasha is never reduced to her asexuality, and for that alone, you should read this fic.