awareness leads to acceptance

Fic Update: Courtship (2/7)

Fandom: Mass Effect: Andromeda

Chapter Title: Sexually (read on Ao3!)

Pairing: Jaal Ama Darav/Skylar Ryder

Rating: Teen

Summary: Jaal’s family comes to Meridian, ready to ask questions and get some answers about the relationship between Ryder and Jaal.

Notes: Endgame spoilers here.

chapter one


Hello, Jaal.

At the sound of SAM’s voice, Jaal looks up from his workstation in Ryder’s room, even though he knows there will be nothing to look at. Habit. “How can I help you, SAM?” he asks, picking up his datapad. His family wanted a rest after the lunch they just shared, so he took the chance to do some work. He will finish this gift to the Tempest crew, an epic poem of their adventures together, if it kills him. At this rate, it just might if he doesn’t find a rhyme for ‘intelligence’ soon.

I have been researching the tavoan. From the texts I have discovered, I see that the true mother is responsible for organizing the family and that Ryder should not be a part of that. She was not aware of that and planned on undertaking the responsibility herself.

“Of course she did,” Jaal mutters under his breath. No one will ever describe his Ryder as uneager.

She is now aware that someone else needs to take the lead and accepts this. As you know, Ryder’s mother is incapacitated. I was created to help her mother and prolong her life span. Because of this, I feel it is my duty to organize the tavoan for Ryder.

“That is very kind of you,” Jaal says, meaning every word. It makes sense, in a way. The only other person he imagines might offer is Scott, and Ryder’s brother is still recovering from his various maladies.

So I must ask you, does Ryder satisfy you sexually?

Keep reading

My son is what professionals call “functionally nonverbal.” He can talk. He does so all the time. But you, and to some extent I, cannot consistently understand him. He has Down syndrome, and like many people with the genetic condition, his language development is generally delayed. More specifically, though, Nico also has apraxia, which makes planning the muscle movements involved in speech difficult for him.


I downloaded “Hamilton” one day after it became free to listen to it on the way back from a late-night gig and see what the fuss was about. A few days later, Nico played it, and rather than instantly turning away from the rapid-fire rap and erudite wordiness of the musical, he seems to have joined much of America in being hooked.

Nico engages with “Hamilton” as language, not merely rhythm and beat. He chooses a setting in which he can watch the lyrics move, tapping them to repeat key phrases he especially likes. He laughs at the jokes. He makes jokes. When he said “Awesome! Wow!” he mimicked Jonathan Groff (who all parents know as the voice of Kristoff in “Frozen”) pretending to be an English king pretending to speak with an American accent. Nico had never said that line before, and when my head jerked up, he was giggling at me, ready to join in my laughter when it came. We laughed together before I went over to hug him.

In fact, his ability to tell jokes around music seems to be empowering, allowing his natural sense of humor to flourish in ways more sophisticated than a good tickle. He grabs at a moment in “Hamilton” when he knows he can get a laugh. When the men of the show all sing, in unison, “With the ladies!” Nico does, too, raising his hands in the air and urging us to join in. Before “Hamilton,” he found a moment in “Death Valley Queen,” a song by the Irish rock band Flogging Molly (I’m an Irish rock musician), when the music surged from quiet to scream to the lyrics, “I have always loved you.” Nico would sit, fist in front of his face, poised like Rodin’s Thinker, then surge to his feet and shout, “Rock and roll!” as the music crested.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. I’m not a big fan of disability awareness campaigns, generally, unless they lead us toward accepting people for who they are, for tearing down our own internal ableist narratives about normality or function. That’s my goal here, to take an anecdote about the surprising role played by streaming music technology that has allowed my son to reveal new depths of understanding. But those depths were always there, he just hadn’t shown them to me, or I just didn’t see.

The day after the first “Awesome! Wow!” incident, we were walking to the bus stop and Nico was making a lot of noise. His hands were up, he had a little hip shimmy as he walked, but I couldn’t figure out the context. Then I caught the rhythm and said, “Shaboom?” He said, “Boom,” and he smiled, realizing I knew he was singing “Hamilton’s” “Right Hand Man.” He signed by touching his fingertips to his chin, and verbally said, “Thank you.”

He seemed pleased I was finally getting better at listening.