Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "White Chrysanthemums"

This is today's freebie, prompted by [personal profile] mylittleangel. It also fills the "Chrysanthemum (white) - Truth" square in my 2-2-21 "Language of Flowers" card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Love Is For Children. It follows "Everyone Should Be Free to Choose," so read that first or this won't make much sense.


"White Chrysanthemums"


When Tony found out that
JARVIS and Clint were together,
he was a little bemused, but
mostly happy for you.

"Congratulations,"
he said to JARVIS.
"I hope that you have
better luck in love
than I ever did."

"Thank you, sir,"
said JARVIS.

Then Tony turned
toward the archer.

"I love you as a buddy,
Clint, but JARVIS is my son,"
Tony said. "If you break
his little clockwork heart,
then I will end you."

"Understood," Clint said.
"I'm not exactly experienced
in healthy relationships, but
JARVIS has found me
some good materials,
so that's helping."

Sure enough, Tony
found those materials
littered around the Tower,
especially the common floor.

One look at Intellectual Foreplay
made him shudder and drop it.

Was that how other people felt
about Tony's cyberporn?

He hesitated over the pile
of pamphlets, not wanting
to get burned again.

However, if JARVIS
and Clint were doing
this asexual thing, Tony
needed to know more.

Besides, he was a superhero;
he couldn't be a coward about it
just because emotions were icky.

Asexuality 101 seemed safer,
so Tony started with that one.

Asexuals had little or no desire
for erotic activity, and rarely
if ever felt sexual desire.
Okay, that made sense.

Demisexuals could only feel
sexual desire for someone after
forming emotional bonds.

"What ... the ... fuuuuck?"
Tony said, tilting the page
sideways. He hadn't misread it.
Well, that made no sense at all.

Then again, he had heard
Steve say something about
not really understanding
the point of good-time girls.

Next Tony tried Understanding
Asexuality & Aromanticism
.

Inside, it had definitions for
asexuality, which was familiar,
and aromanticism, which Tony
had never even heard of.

"Lack of romantic attraction,"
he read. "That's ... interesting."

But it was the next page
that really clicked for him.

That page had graphs that
looked like little arc reactors
in different colors, each one of
them divided into pie-pieces
for Support, Commitment,
Sex, Romance, and Other.

The more of a piece that
was filled in, the more
that part mattered in
a given relationship.

Tony could instantly see
that he valued sex a lot,
and support somewhat, but
many of his relationships
relied on other things, like
the lab bromance with Bruce.

Commitment was ... well, Tony
was trying to learn about that,
but the whole Obie thing
made it reeeaaally hard.

Romance? Tony winced.

That was something women
started to expect after about
the second or third date,
and Tony sucked at it.

He didn't understand
why people couldn't just
enjoy a jolly good fuck
and be done with it.

Okay, some men could,
and that was a key reason
why Tony loved gay sex.

Women were more like
chocolate lube: awesome, but
damn near impossible get off you.

Curious, Tony tried the last pamphlet.
Common Aromantic Identities had
descriptions of different ways that
people could feel about romance,
or rather the lack of romance.

He definitely was not aroace,
because he loved pussy and
loved dick and all the other bits
and bobs of bodily pleasure.

He wasn't sure about grayro.
Had he ever felt the kind
of hearts-and-flowers that
people typically described?
Maybe. Kinda. Sorta.

He felt bad about
disappointing Pepper,
at least. Did that count?

Then he found quoiromantic,
and even better WTFromantic,
for people who didn't understand
romance or how it was supposed
to be different from platonic feels.

"Wow," Tony said. "That ... that
kinda sounds like me. Wow."

There were words for how
Tony felt about people.

There were words for it.

He wasn't broken, wasn't
just a craptastic boyfriend or
a sad excuse for a human being.

He was aromantic. Maybe.
Probably. More research needed.

But the hypothesis gave him hope,
and that was what mattered.

"JARVIS, can you print me off
some copies of these pamphlets?"
Tony said. "And maybe find me
some more reading material?
Not like that awful book, ugh,
I mean things on asexuality
and aromanticism and stuff."

"Those pamphlets are spares, so
you may keep them," JARVIS said.
"Clint and I thought that some of
the other Avengers might like
background reading, so we
printed up several copies. I
will compile a reading list and
add it to your personal files."

"Thanks, J," said Tony. "And
maybe, uh, something about
support? Which I'm trying
to learn. For you and Clint."

"I will add those materials
to your list," JARVIS said.

"Flowers!" Tony yelped.
"There are supposed to be
flowers. That's a thing.
That I get yelled at about."

"Flowers are often expected
in romantic relationships, but
not necessarily in asexual or
aromantic ones," JARVIS said.
"It is entirely up to you, sir."

"Pepper likes flowers,"
Tony said. "I should send ...
something not sexy like roses?"

"White chrysanthemums symbolize
truth," said JARVIS. "White flowers
generally send platonic messages."

"Yeah, that!" Tony said, nodding.
"And a card, it needs a card."

Tony's phone vibrated.
He took it out and filled in
the card form on the screen:

I think I might be aromantic.
I'd like to be platonic friends
.

It probably sucked, but it
wasn't as bad as some things
he'd sent while he was hungover.

Or dying, definitely better than those.

"JARVIS, do you think I should send
flowers to Clint too?" Tony said. "For,
you know, showing me this stuff."

"I am certain that Clint would
like to know you appreciate
the information," said JARVIS.

"Yeah, yeah, send a bouquet
to him too then," Tony said.

On the card, he put an emoticon
of a heart with a slash through it, and
underneath, Thanks. I needed that.

This wasn't a robust theory yet,
it still needed a lot of testing, but

it was the best hypothesis he had.

* * *

Notes:

Intellectual Foreplay is a book of deep relationship questions. Note: for demifolk, romantic asexuals, and other less-carnal orientations, this often parses are hardcore pr0n. If you're really into emotional intimacy rather than squishing bits together, consider your environment before indulging. Everyone has things that really excite them, just not all the same things.

(These images are Not Safe For Work in most fields.)
Tony's mental porn track is influenced by cyberspace and psychotropics, like this woman taking a selfie and this woman firing a rocket out of her ass. Most people find such images more disturbing than sexy.

Asexuality 101 (page 1, page 2)
A flyer by Asexual Outreach
Asexual Outreach’s Asexuality 101 flyer provides an overview of the asexual spectrum, introduces romantic orientations and the aromantic spectrum, and speaks to the intersection of asexuality with race and disability. It's a great resource to give to people who are seeking a concise introduction to asexuality.

Understanding Asexuality and Aromanticism (cover, interior)
This brochure provides a brief overview of ace and aro identities, relationships, and issues. This easy to read introduction is a fantastic resource to share with people who are getting to know and understand our community.

Common Aromantic Identities
By AUREA
This flyer defines several different ways that aromantic people define themselves.

Learn how to support an asexual friend.

A Beginner's Guide to Being an Aromantic Ally
By AUREA
This short handout provides actionable steps to better support aro people.
Tags: family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, life lessons, poem, poetry, weblit
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