April 28, 2015

In Which Dalston Has to Leave

**Trigger Warning

NOTE: I almost didn't write this post. Thing is, I've been unable to get a good read on this character for years now, and when I finally figured out exactly what was up... well, frankly, it wasn't something I wanted to write about. But, especially now that he's first in line to succeed Severin as Lord Veldora, Dalston is connected enough that a sudden disappearance from the story would be a colossal loose end. And, if I thought about it... in the long run, if a serious issue like this comes up, it's better off being addressed and tackled rather than swept under the rug and ignored.

So for now, I will state outright that this is NOT a storyline about someone who is tempted to do horrible things and then does them. This is a storyline about someone who is tempted to do horrible things, but realizes that these things are horrible, and, in the end, does not give in. That said, if you'd rather give this storyline a pass, I understand completely. All of the posts in this storyline will be marked with trigger warnings, like this one is. Posts will be recapped in the warning link in what I hope will be a less upsetting format for those reading them: clear and quick, without going into any characters' heads.

That said, I will make a point to keep this arc as isolated from the rest of the story as possible (though there will have to be some intersect with other characters and arcs at some point; if this wasn't the case, I wouldn't be doing this storyline at all), so if you'd rather not have the think about this storyline at all, don't feel obliged to even look at the recaps. Your well-being is INFINITELY more important than my hit counter or my comment total, so whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, that's what you should do.

That's probably all I can say on the matter without making things worse. For those of you who do wish to continue... well, here it goes...

August 21, 1191

Gennie was chattering on about something--Dalston wasn't sure what. It wasn't that he didn't think she was intelligent enough to carry on a decent conversation, or so inconsiderate that she wouldn't choose a topic she felt would interest him. When it came to Gennie, he just never had any energy leftover for listening.

All of it went into begging himself, almost forcing himself, to like her.

What was wrong with him? She was pretty, clever, the right age... and a princess, for God's sake! How many heirs to mere lordships had a chance with a princess?

"So... what do you think?"

Shit. "Uh..." "I think you're right, Gennie," perked up Wolf from the couch--to Dalston's great relief.

"Yes, I--I think you're right too." He never would have survived his conversations with Gennie if not for Wolf's insistence on following her around like a puppy. Wolf adored Gennie. Possibly even more strongly than Gennie adored Dalston.

Why couldn't Gennie like Wolf? It wouldn't change anything for Dalston--Dalston was a lost cause--but the two of them would both be that much happier.

"So, do you want to go for a walk or something? It's been far too long since I've been to the village here."

The village. The polite thing would have been to accept, but there were just too many people in the village. And too many of them were--no. No, he couldn't risk it. "I don't know..."

"I'll go for a walk with you," Wolf offered.

Before Gennie had a chance to reply, the door opened. "Hello, cousins!"

SHIT! Why did his cousins of that age feel free to come and go as they pleased? If only they could sense that what was good for them was staying away! "Uh... hello, Alina." Where was his Aunt Vera? "Is your mother with you?"

"Yours wanted to show her a new dress or something. I got bored, so I thought I'd see if I could find anyone. Is Celina here?"

"She went for a ride with Grandmother." Worst possible timing. If his little sister was here to monopolize their guests, than Dalston didn't have to worry about slipping up and doing something unforgivable. "They didn't leave that long ago; maybe you could catch up?"

"Nah. I'll just sit here with Wolf."

She did as she promised--with no intention of leaving. "You're so strange, Dalston."

He wished he was only 'strange'.

"Oh, don't push her away, Dalston!" Gennie shot Alina a smile. In his attempt not to meet his cousin's eye, all he got from the sight of her was how soft her hair looked, how it bounced even as she sat. What the ever-loving fuck was wrong with him? "You're not bothering anyone, Alina. Besides, Dalston and I were just about to head out for a walk.

"Weren't we, Dalston?"

"Uh..." What to do? Here, there was Alina. In the village, who knew how many little girls whose soft hair he should not have been thinking about touching. God, why couldn't he be attracted to girls his own age? Hell, he'd take being attracted to boys his own age. At least boys his own age were...

Well, they weren't little kids. And Dalston wouldn't have been a monster for thinking of them that way.

"I, uh... I have to leave."



Van said...

I hope the precaution of the author's note was sufficient. :S

Anonymous said...

I think it was long enough. To be honest I expected blood and gore after what you just wrote.

Yikes, that's tough for Dalston. >.o
Even nowadays it's only treatable, not healable. Though maybe he can still talk to someone he trusts about the issue.
But I don't think that Dalston is quite such a big danger to his cousins as he makes himself out to be. After all, at least he figured out the issue on his own. I think...

Orilon said...

Like mimusofbellingar I was expecting blood and gore because of the author's note. I was not expecting (and didn't realize that the trigger warning was a link) what the post actually turned to be about.

Ann said...

When I saw all that red I expected horrible death and bloodshed, but after reading what you had to say I got a pretty good idea of what was about to be revealed. So, for my part I can only say: good job on the warning!

I have to say I'm very relieved to hear that Dalston realizes what his thoughts mean and that he must not ever act on them.
We've been discussing a similar case in class lately (psychology class at a school for future kindergarten teachers, if anyone is curious). It was about a boy more or less Dalston's age who was downloading pictures (nothing more, yet), but didn't actually think there was anything wrong with that until he was discovered and put in therapy, where he became aware of what would happen if he didn't take care.
Dalston already has that awareness. And seeing it, I don't thing he is quite the danger to his cousin or any other child as he thinks. But it's certainly a very bad situation for him. I wish there was someone who he felt he could tell about this, so that person could help him. Because frankly I think he puts himself under a lot of pressure and I'm afraid that might make things worse for him at least and others at worst.
Dalston is what, 15? Maybe it sounds horrible, but... he might yet grow out of it?
To get someone to help him cope in a non-harmful way could make a huge difference, not only to his thought and actions and his well-being, but perhaps also in the root of what attracts him.
In any case, withdrawing from people as he seems to do is bound to make a bad situation worse.
Humans or sims are just not made for isolation.

I realize this storyline can't be very pleasant to write, but I have to say that I'm very glad you still decided to do it. You are definitely right in saying that it's better that serious things like this be addressed rather than ignored and covered up.
Personally, I want to know more about Dalston and I would be glad for any PoV posts you decide to write, Van. Call it a kind of morbid curiosity if you will, but I think we need to understand this issue better and seeing it through the mind of a fictional character may be a good step towards that, no?

Van said...

Mimus: Yeah, from what I can gather, the main treatment today is medically repressing the sex drive. That and, of course, therapy. There may be someone Dalston can talk to, but this is probably the last thing he wants to talk about unless it gets to the point where he feels he has to.

But, he does have his self-awareness going for him. For all he may have urges, I don't see him actually harming Alina or any other little girl.

Orilon: Blood and gore might have been a little too much of a spoiler for such a long warning--though, yeah, that would merit a trigger warning.

Ann: Nope, Dalston's not going to act on it. And it's a lucky thing that he started questioning his feelings before it was too late. So, no, he's not as much of a danger to his cousins as he thinks he is, though he will have to continue being vigilant. Hopefully he'll find someone he can talk to about this eventually.

Yep, Dalston will be fifteen in November. It might not be impossible that he'd grow out of it? Might be a little much to hope for, though. :S

But no, he can't withdraw forever. Even if he gets to the point where he decides it's too risky to be around children ever, he'll still need adults in his life to keep him from losing his mind.

Thanks. I'm glad that my reasoning made sense and resonates.

Joseph said...

Hey Van!

Sorry for the random post comment. I saw your most recent post, clicked on the trigger warning link and that directed me here. Paedophilia is an issue that's rife in society and yet never seems to be tackled (at least without people giving in to their urges and then becoming murderers or something as well). Obviously it can't have been very pleasant to reside in a character's head when he's thinking thoughts like that but I must commend you on how well-written this post was. You managed to take an issue and a character like this and instead of being like 'OMG HE'S TOTES EVUL', (spelling mistake intentional) you took the character through the much more interesting journey (in my opinion anyway) of 'OK I'm getting these thoughts. They're the opposite of right. What the actual fuck do I do?'

This is a brave decision and no doubt it'll piss off some readers but I hope you stick with this and show Dalston as someone who's struggling, maybe giving him more of an addict persona with how he's tempted rather than making him into a monster. Of course I'm saying this not knowing if you've already added to this story or not. :D

One other thing. I've not read a Naroni post in forever because of this stupid thing called 'real life' but since the last post I read (sometime in 1180 I think, your writing has improved tremendously. And you were brilliant to start with.

Hope I get to comment on more Naroni soon. I really really need to catch up with this story.

Van said...

Hi Joseph!

I'm relieved to hear that you think this post was done sensitively enough, because I did really debate about whether or not to write it... but, in the end, I think it had to be done in order to do the character justice. And the issue does need to be addressed and tackled, for sure.

It would have been very easy to write Dalston off as a villain when I figured out his preferences. But, puzzling as it was at the time, he did still have a moral compass, and a lot of self-awareness. It didn't seem natural for him to act on his urges (and I think it goes without saying that I wouldn't have wanted to write about that). So, it's an arc about resisting temptation--a character with a part of himself who wants to hurt people, but a heart that ultimately does not.

No worries about real life happening! I know you've been very busy. Dalston hasn't actually shown up since this post, so his journey of self-control will continue in the future.