beatrice_otter: Superman--red cape (Superman Cape)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: Self-Knowledge
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Word count: 1800
Rating: PG
Fandoms: Superman
Characters: Clark Kent, Kara Zor-El, Lois Lane
Written for: [profile] azsapphire  in the [community profile] asexual_fandom  kink meme.
Summary: Kara’s question makes Clark realize that some of his assumptions about Kryptonians are wrong.

Three weeks after Kara Zor-El’s escape pod crashed on Earth, she asked her cousin Clark a question.

In and of itself, this was nothing unusual. They’d spent the time since her arrival talking constantly, filling in the gaps of their knowledge. Kara told Kal-El about Krypton and their family; Clark told Kara about Earth and his life here, and all the things she’d have to know in order to blend in. Clark loved it, loved showing Kara all the best things about his home. And for the first time in his life, he had someone who really understood what it was like to be an alien on Earth. Kara was grieving for Krypton, which to her was destroyed only days ago, but she was curious and wanted to connect with her only surviving relative.

So they’d asked each other many, many questions. But Clark was totally, utterly, and completely unprepared for this one.

“So, are Kryptonians and Humans sexually compatible?” Kara asked. “I mean, obviously you’d have to be careful, given how fragile they are. But do they have the same sex organs? Do they get aroused by the same things? Because they look so similar. And some of the men are very pretty. And if I’m going to be here the rest of my life …” She stared at him. “Are you okay?”

“Um.” Clark pulled himself together. “Men … men generally are called handsome, instead of pretty,” he said. “And, uh, there are physical differences, but they’re mostly all internal.” He paused, frantically trying to find something else to say. He couldn’t feed her the usual line of mild innuendo and misdirection he gave others who asked. She was his cousin, family, the only other Kryptonian alive (except the criminals in the Phantom Zone).

Kara was still looking at him, frowning. She opened her mouth.

“Maybe you should talk to Lois about this,” Clark said before she could speak. Yes. Lois would be able to help. God knew Clark had heard far more about her love life over the years they’d been partnered than he wanted to.

“Okay,” Kara said slowly. They changed the subject, but Clark was relieved to be called to an emergency half-way around the globe soon after.


Later, coming back, he hovered high above Metropolis for a few minutes to “check in” with the city. There were a few minor incidents, but all within the capacity of humans to solve for themselves, and he was tired. His friends and loved ones were fine, too.

Kara was with Lois; he could hear them talking. They didn’t know he was back yet, and he couldn’t help but overhear.

“But why was Kal-El so strange when I brought it up? I’ve never seen him lost for words, before.”

“Ask him that, kid. My theory? He’s a small-town farmboy from the Midwest, raised by elderly parents. They don’t talk about sex, much, there, and certainly not in his parents’ generation. And it probably didn’t help that you’re female, related to him, and younger than him.”

“Then you humans have a social taboo about sex? You don’t seem to share it, and I am glad, for our conversation has made me feel very at home. You’ve been very helpful, thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I don’t have many taboos about sex. But then, I’m a 21st Century city girl. In some ways, Clark would do just fine dropped back in the 1950s. Sex just happens to be one of them.”

Eavesdroppers never hear good things, Clark could hear his mother saying. He didn’t want to have to listen to the rest of the conversation. Maybe tonight would be a good night to visit Mom.


Two days later, Clark was hunched over his computer wracking his brain for the word he wanted when Lois loomed large over his monitor.

“Hey, Clark,” she said. “Lunchtime. We’re going to Mamma V’s.”

“Okay,” he said to her back as she strode for the elevators, coat already in hand. He saved his document and grabbed his own jacket, scurrying after her. He wasn’t hungry yet (Jamal in Lifestyles had a birthday, and his coworkers had gotten him a large cake, which Clark had done his share of eating). But Lois had him well trained; when she got that tone of voice, it was best to just go along.

At Mamma V’s, she ordered her usual chicken Caesar salad and coffee, and his turkey club and coffee, as soon as they were seated. Once the waitress was gone, she folded her hands on the table. “So. You’ve been ignoring me, and Kara says you’re still a bit weird with her. How much of our conversation did you overhear Monday night?” When she’d learned he was Superman, and at the same time just how much he could hear all the time (and it was a lot more than just cries for help), she’d been disturbed. But she also accepted that it wasn’t really something he could control, any more than a human could, and learned how to deal with it without being bothered by it. That kind pragmatism was one of the things he loved about her.

“Not much,” Clark said. “Kara thanked you for your help, and asked what was wrong with me. I decided to go visit Mom.”

“She didn’t ask what was wrong with you.”

“That’s what she meant.”

Lois tipped her head, acknowledging the point. “Is there something wrong?”

“Aside from the fact that you have more in common with the only other living Kryptonian than I do?” Clark took a careful sip of his water, studying the restaurant. It was a little early for the full lunch crowd; nobody was close enough to them to hear them.

“But only on certain things,” Lois said. “Besides, would you really want to have had that conversation with her?” At his grimace, she nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

She was missing the point, Clark thought.

“So. Aside from that, are you okay?” Lois persisted. It was the same doggedness she used on her sources, but with true caring behind it.

“Yeah,” Clark said, “I’m fine. I’m the same as I always am.”

They sat in silence while the waitress poured their coffee, and a little after while Clark poured in cream and sugar and Lois watched him, shaking her head. She didn’t ask why he didn’t just get a latte if all he wanted was cream, this time, and Clark was a bit disappointed. Their usual debate over the proper way to drink coffee would have been soothing.

“You know,” Lois said meditatively, once they were alone again, “when I first met Superman, and he didn’t even seem to notice when I flirted with him, I wondered if it was because he was so much a hero, so noble, that such things were beneath him. Which is such bull, I don’t believe that sex is something to be ashamed of or dirty, or that celibacy is any more virtuous than being sexually active. But I was caught up in the romance of it.” Clark nodded; he’d had to sit and listen to her rhapsodizing about it on more than one occasion. “Then there was Clark, my new partner, and I just thought you were shy or something. And I decided that Kryptonians just didn’t have sex drives, or something. I wondered if you might be gay, and tried to set you up with that guy in printing, and you set me straight—no pun intended. Then I stopped worrying about it; it’s just the way you are. And eventually stopped worrying about Superman, too.”

“And I was glad,” Clark said. By that point, they’d been friends, and he hadn’t liked keeping such big secrets from her … but he hadn’t been about to spoil their working camaraderie.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Lois said, shaking her head. “Then you told me you were Superman, and I figured maybe I was right about Kryptonians.”

“That’s kind of what I thought, too. The Fortress never really talks about sex.”

“It was programmed by your parents when you were a baby, Clark. If it were me … well, I’d still make sure there was all the stuff you’d need to know about sex in it. But my sister probably wouldn’t want to think about her babies and sex in the same sentence.”

“True. And, y’know, it’s not like I’ve ever asked—it’s never been that important for me. Except as one more way I’m different than humans, and there are enough of those that it never really stood out.” Clark sighed, and looked up as the waitress approached with their meal.

“Thank you,” he said as she put the plates in front of them.

“Sure thing, Clark,” the waitress replied with a smile. “Can I get you anything else?”

“I think we’re fine, for now,” Lois said.

They ate in silence for a while. “Now there’s Kara,” Clark said. “Looks like I was wrong. It’s not Kryptonians, it’s just … me.”

“Does it bother you?” Lois asked.

“I was looking forward to having someone who really understood,” Clark said. “Nothing against you or Mom, but …”

“There’s a limit to how good our imaginations are,” Lois said, nodding. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear all the things you do and not be able to turn it off, and quite frankly I’m glad I don’t have to.”

“Other than that, I don’t mind,” Clark said. “It’s just annoying when people try to set me up or give me a hard time for being single.”

“Now, that I understand,” Lois said. “I hate it when Mom goes on about asking when I’m going to get married so she can get grandchildren out of me. She’s already got some from Lucy, I don’t know why she needs ‘em from me, too.”

Clark shrugged. His mother would probably never get grandchildren. And he regretted that; he liked kids, and nothing would have made her happier. But he just didn’t have the time to take care of children properly.

Lois finished her salad. “The season opener’s in two weeks, I can get tickets,” she said, as she fished through her purse for her credit card and her share of the tip. “Think Kara’d like to see a ball game?”

“I dunno, Lois,” Clark said, standing up and pulling out his billfold. “Whether or not she’s interested, I’d love to go.”

“Well, let me know if I should get two tickets or three.”


Lois never brought it up again, and she didn’t stop telling Clark way more than he wanted to know about her love life. But a week later, he got to the office and found a plain folder on his desk. Inside was a sheet with a link to and the name and phone number of a woman who ran a local support group for “aces.”


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

October 2017

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