Asexuality Awareness Week, Day One: Of Sand and Acceptance
For those who don't know about Asexuality, please give the topic a few minutes of your time! You can read more about what asexuality is at the AVEN website. Here is a link to AVEN's brief overview: ASEXUALITY BASICS
Today's fandom is Escaflowne. How could I resist? My favourite character in that series is a canon asexual. Note that Dilandau is aromantic asexual in this story, but in general asexuals are not necessarily aromantic. The two are not the same thing!
Title: Of Sand and Acceptance
Prompt: Asexuality Awareness Week
Word Count: 1422
Rating: PG-13 for mentions of sexuality (obviously)
Summary: Dilandau isn't attracted to anyone. Allen is a bit concerned by this.
Warnings: THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW. This is in the same universe as a fic I wrote a long time ago, which you cannot read because it is eyeball-meltingly godawful. What you do need to know is that Dilandau deserted the Zaibach army just before the last battle and eventually hooks up with Van and Allen after a series of very weird, twisted events. The madoushi are brought to justice, Dilandau gets a bit of peace of mind, begins the slow process of recovery, is pardoned, and Allen is now his legal guardian. I have another fic in the same 'verse that isn't quite as awful: Dance in Shadows.
Dilandau doesn’t quite believe Allen’s reasons for taking them on a daytrip to the beach (“You could use some sun, Dilandau,” ignoring his ward’s waspish reply that he’s an albino, thank you very much, and doesn’t need sun), but he lets the excuses slide, because really, anything is better than suffering through yet another day of being introduced to increasingly vapid court ladies whose brains seem to be composed of even more lace than their clothing.
They’re a few miles out from Palas, at one of the more popular resort areas. The beach is crowded—shirtless men and boys tumble and laugh until their skin is crusted in sand, which they then wash clean in the frothy waves rumbling up cold from the deep. Gaggles of girls giggle together, all in the extremely lax state of dress permitted on the beach, watching the boys coyly or playing various team games of their own.
The more sensible people, like Dilandau, are huddled on towels beneath shade umbrellas, reading books.
A cascade of yellow tumbles over the umbrella’s edge, framing a familiar sideways frown. Dilandau does his best to ignore it.
“What?” Dilandau grips the edges of his book more tightly.
“Aren’t you going to have some fun?”
“I am having fun. I am sitting beneath some wonderful shade and enjoying an engrossing tale of swashbuckling bloodshed and revenge on the high seas. I’m not even complaining. What more do you want?”
Allen’s frown has taken up residence on his face with a permanence that suggests having paid its rent several months in advance. “I meant more along the lines of enjoying the scenery.”
Dilandau looks up now and pushes his tinted glasses up onto the crown of his head. His silver hair curls around the frames and loops in familiar, comfortable waves. “Schezar, we live in sight of the ocean. I see the ocean every day. Has the sun finally fried what’s left of your brain?”
Allen ignores the insult and instead dips downward to sit, uninvited, in the shade next to his ward. Dilandau scowls and pointedly does not shift over. “I didn’t mean the scenery,” Allen says.
Dilandau stares blankly at Allen. Then he glances out at the beach.
The ocean is an exquisite sight. Blue waters sway, drunk on silver and sparkling with the white light of millions of stars trapped just beneath the waves, their brilliance bursting free with every surge into the sky. Summer is in the sand, in the hot and sizzling grains that, when kicked under heels and toes, spill forth a shower of molten sunlight. The air is golden on the tongue, heavy and salty and hot. Tongues of white fire dance along the crests of the waves and the dips in the sand, sparkling as though all the wild beach is aflame.
Yes, exquisite, Dilandau thinks. “Could do with less people,” he says.
Allen goggles, as though Dilandau has completely missed the point. Maybe he has, but Dilandau’s patience has run out. He snaps his book shut and scowls. “Out with it, Allen.”
Allen sighs and looks out at the beach. His blue eyes are not, Dilandau notices, tracing the ebb and flow of the sea, but rather—and predictably so—following the curves of the women. Dilandau rolls his eyes and cracks his book open again.
“You weren’t at all interested in any of the women at the Palace,” Allen says. Dilandau tilts his head back up. “So I thought, maybe, you were…well, there were rumors, what with the young men in Zaibach…” Allen trails off uncomfortably.
Dilandau grits his teeth and sees red. “You mean my Dragonslayers?” he growls. Even though he’s buried them, picked the tatters of his life up and patched them together around the ragged holes where they used to be, their memories still ache like phantom limbs. “They were my command, Schezar. My subordinates. Even if I had been interested,” he says the word with a disdainful curl of his lip, “it would have been highly unprofessional. So no, of course not.”
Allen meets his eyes, and Dilandau holds the gaze, anger bubbling in his crimson irises. Then Allen nods and, surprisingly, apologizes. “I’m sorry. I don’t doubt your professionalism, and I didn’t mean to insult you or them.”
Dilandau is perfectly still, but not quite as bristling any longer. He nods curtly.
Allen runs his fingers through his sheets of golden hair, and sighs again. “What I’m trying to say is, you don’t seem interested in anyone that I’ve seen, regardless of gender, class, or profession. I’m trying to help you find a place in this world, help you live a normal life, but frankly you’re not giving me much to go on here.”
Dilandau closes his book and sets it aside, shifting to give Schezar his full attention. His guardian seems to be listening, so Dilandau is going to take advantage of that while it lasts. “No, Allen, I’m not. Because I’m not attracted to anyone, and neither do I particularly want to be.”
Allen eyes him uncertainly, and a shroud of wary concern clouds his eyes. “Is this something that Zaibach did? Because if it is, we can try to fix—“
“NO!” Dilandau snarls, loud and fiercely enough that several nearby beachgoers stumble in the sand and turn, startled, to stare at them. Dilandau lowers his voice down to a hiss. “No. There’s nothing wrong with me. This is just me. It’s the way I am. I’m not traumatized. I’m not underdeveloped, I’m not repressed.” Repressed, ha. The wild abandon with which he had comported himself in battle probably eliminated that idea from having ever been considered.
Allen’s face goes slack with bafflement. “That…Dilandau, that’s not normal.”
That’s it, Dilandau thinks. I’m setting fire to Allen’s wardrobe when we get home. And replacing his shampoo with purple hair dye. “Normal?” he says out loud, voice pitched high with incredulity. “Normal? Allen, a year ago you helped save the world from a reality bomb created by an insane, centuries old Mystic Moon Scientist, with the aid of a reality-warping psychic witch—also from the Mystic Moon—and a Draconian, in the process of which you not only discovered that Atlantis actually does exist, but also WENT THERE. And you think that me not wanting to snog anyone is weird?”
Allen cringes sheepishly. “Okay, okay, you have a point. But…you aren’t unhappy?”
Dilandau’s voice is wry. “If you mean, ‘Does the lack of a significant other leave a hole in your existence,’ then the answer is no. I don’t need a romantic interest. I don’t need to screw anyone to make my life more fulfilling. Nor do I want to, for that matter.”
“…huh.” Allen processes this, and is quiet for some time. Dilandau follows his eyes out to the sea, then reaches for his book again. He’s gotten as far as the next page when Allen speaks up again. “You’re sure? Really?”
Dilandau nearly splits the book in half between his fingers. “I’m very sure, yes. Look, I’m about as likely to change my mind as you are to wake up tomorrow and find that you think Van is the hottest piece of ass on Gaea.”
Allen chokes, horrified. “Jeture, Dilandau! No!” His normally flawless complexion takes on a green tinge.
Dilandau chuckles, annoyance evaporating into smug satisfaction that his analogy has hit home. “Now you see my perspective.”
“Okay, yes. Point taken. I won’t bother you about it again.”
Dilandau raises a silvery eyebrow. “On your word?”
“On my word.”
Dilandau grins. A heaviness he hadn’t realized he’d been carrying evaporates from his shoulders and chest. “Good.”
They remain where they are, comfortable in shade and silence, with Allen watching the women laugh on the sand and Dilandau lost in a seafaring adventure far away in the pages of his book. An ease has settled between them; the brittle tension has melted away, leaving one of them more enlightened and the other quietly delighted at being accepted, once again, for who he is.
Maybe Dilandau will even spare Allen’s shirts, and settle for just dying his hair instead.