Damn List, a story of Ahouva/#Addergoole Year Nine for… um.. myself.

After Moving On (LJ

Content warning for more … post-trauma magical thinking. I really don’t know what to call it but Ahouva’s brain is not a fun place to be and she’s not very nice to herself.

Out the back door of the classroom, down a side hallway, if she turned left here she could make it to the place where they went outside for kaana lessons. She planned out her route, even as she examined Basalt’s orders – and not just the very few he made orders directly, but all the other things he said that didn’t force obedience, just tested it.

She didn’t have an direct rules about where she should be after class, but he had said “I’ll meet you after your class.” That could just be courtesy, but it was probably a test. Probably a test she was in the process of failing. Just because Calvin creeped her out. Bad girl.

Chastising herself: she knew better. She knew to do what she was told. If she did what she was told, Basalt would at least have less reason to be unhappy with her, to punish her. He hadn’t punished her yet, except these lists, but that just meant it would be horrid when he finally did.

She slowed down and, forcing her feet to keep going, turned around. She had to go back. It was the only chance she had at understanding what he wanted of her. It was her only chance of minimizing her punishm-

“Ow! You bastard!” Ahouva stopped inside the doorway again, trying to stay hidden and still listen. That was Calvin, wasn’t it?

“If you ever,” Basalt’s voice was low and menacing, a rumble like a volcano about to erupt, “say anything like that where Ahouva can hear you, I will break more than your nose, you pissant little piece of shit. You leave my Kept alone.”

“You can’t get away with this shit.”

“Watch me. Bring your useless little friends, and I’ll bring my friends, and we’ll see how that goes.” He was terrifying. She pressed herself against the doorway and tried to become invisible. “Get out of here. I don’t want her to have to deal with you.”

“I’m gonna…”

“Now now, you aren’t. Get out of here.” Ahouva heard someone walking away, hurrying away, what a wonderful idea. She should…

No, she shouldn’t. She made herself smile faintly as Basalt rounded the corner, and stopped, frowning.

Frowning. Frowning was bad. She took an involuntary step backwards. “I’m sorry?”

“I didn’t want you to hear that.” He wiped his hand on his jeans, leaving a wet streak on the black denim. Ahouva gulped, and stepped back again, cursing herself as Basalt’s frown deepened. “‘Who, I’m sorry. Believe me, I didn’t want you to hear that.”

“I believe you,” she answered dully.

“Oh, balls, honey, come here,” he grumbled, holding out a hand. Unwillingly, she reached out for his hand, putting her fingers over his fingers. “Ahouva, Calvin is a grade-A asshole. I don’t want him bothering you. What are you…?”

“This stupid list,” she muttered, scribbling in it. “It’s still after class and…”

He peered over her shoulder. “Oh. Well. Let’s go talk about that, okay?”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/255729.html. You can comment here or there.

22 thoughts on “Damn List, a story of Ahouva/#Addergoole Year Nine for… um.. myself.

  1. Oh, dear. Being ordered to believe has to suck. Does he even realize he just did that? And that’s a pretty dreadfully underspecified thing to believe. (What happens if a Kept is ordered to believe something that’s observably not true?) Neither of them seems likely to think to get some outside/adult help (fixing Ahouva’s head); is anyone is Basalt’s crew at all likely to suggest it?

    • Basalt is trying (and Calvin deserved that, and he didn’t mean that ‘believe me’ to be an order. Penny is in Basalt’s cy’ree, she might…

      • Basalt is trying very hard, but he’s blundering about trying, and has made a point of saying that thinking isn’t his strong suit. He’s got good intentions — at least, I think he has good intentions, but I’m not sure how much frustration and/or lack of progress they’ll hold up to — backed up by sheer force of will, but it’s going to take a long time for that by itself to get through to Ahouva in her current state of mind. He appears to have the ability to set a pattern and stick to it reliably (not entirely surprising for someone with a rock name), which may help. That might be enough to give Ahouva a safe, stable framework to put herself back together, if it didn’t come with the not-thought-through orders, the scary examples right nearby (Thorburn and Ceinwen), and the general hostile chaos of Addergoole. Penny might! She’s pretty fiercely self-sufficient, though — how does she do with people as damaged as Ahouva?

  2. Oh man. Bassalt’s efforts are actually pretty good, and he really is doing the best he can. I like that. He will hopefully remember to rescind that “possibly-an-order” about believing things. His problem is that Who takes everything as an order or test, and he just doesn’t think that way.

        • “Believe me, I didn’t want you to hear that.” He ordered her to believe that. He is working her towards trusting him, since her sense of trust has been entirely brutalized by Kendon.

      • Answering strictly for me, and at excessive length … — It’s a construct some people use almost reflexively when they think someone isn’t believing them. “Trust me (on this one)” is another (which I think would be even more dangerous here). — It’s a poorly-constructed order. It’s not clear what he didn’t want her to hear. My first thought on that front was that the thing he didn’t want her to hear was something she *didn’t* actually hear, some jackass thing Calvin said while she was trying to run away. On the other hand, maybe he didn’t want her to hear him seeming to give passing consideration to negotiating with Calvin (which I don’t think he did, but his first response was not very convincing on that front if one is inclined to think the worst). Or maybe it was the reference to her as Kendon’s toy that he didn’t want her to hear: it certainly triggered a bad response. — It’s a messing-with-your-head order. He’s very aware that she’s damaged. I don’t know how much experience he has with that sort of order, from either end of a Keeping. What few examples I’ve read are all pretty nasty, intentionally or not: Leo and Yoshi losing self under orders not to feel; Ceinwen being ordered to want. Does he know what sorts of repercussions orders about how to think can have, and is he prepared to traverse that minefield? He’s said he’s not really a thinker. — If he wants to, he can order her to trust him. That’s … simple and direct and possibly a disasterous mess for her mentally if he doesn’t hold up his end by being trustworthy (and maybe even if he does). If he wants her to decide for herself that he can be trusted, giving her orders to push her in that direction seems like the wrong plan.

        • Ah, interesting. See, my take on it was: The way that Kendon messed with her head, she’s inclined to believe only the worst of her Keeper and believe that everything else was a trap. So he needs to shortcut that, because she’s cleverer than he is and he knows it. He needs her to start to believe him. I don’t think of it as a poorly-phrased order: he’s ordering her to believe that he didn’t want her to hear that…. ah, that “that.” Hrrm.

          • Yeah, it’s the unspecified “that” which I think makes it an unclear order, for both intent and execution. Trying to shortcut getting someone to trust you by giving them orders they can’t refuse seems likely to backfire, to me, unless maybe the person giving the orders is very good at understanding how what their orders will affect their Kept — at which point they’re playing mind games with each other, which is part of what he’s trying to avoid. And this ‘verse has a friendlier method for offering those sorts of assurances in the form of promises, though I don’t know if Ahouva has a grip yet on how those work, or if those have been twisted around her enough that she doesn’t trust them, either.

        • Well I have to agree with you that it is a potentially dangerous type of order if misused, but I don’t think he’s misusing it. He’s essentially using the Bond to counteract the mental damage done – also by the Bond – by Kendon, on Ahouva. I think that Basalt, while he is self-admittedly not an intellectual or particularly analytical type, he is doing pretty well so far with the tools that he has at hand. i.e. the fact that he is her Keeper. Ordering her to trust him is, as you pointed out, potentially disastrous. It also doesn’t help fix anything, which really is what he is trying to do. It isn’t so much that he wants her to trust him as he wants her to be ABLE to. To that end, he has to force her to break the mental defenses she built up against Kendon’s crap. Since this is the “wrong plan”, I am curious, however, what you feel the “right” plan would be in correcting her magically-enhanced mental damage?

          • It’s a potentially useful tool, and I don’t think he’s intentionally abusing it, but I don’t think he knows how to use it effectively, either. I think orders on what to believe (or think or trust) are likely to lead straight into mind games, where using the brute force of orders without great skill will result in her twisting things up in her head in even more clever and complicated ways. He’s made a point of saying that she’s cleverer than he is; I expect she can twist more effectively than he can bulldoze, at least if he’s trying not to just flatten her, and she will take more damage in the process. I think he’s doing well with the list — which I will also argue was a much better thought-out order than the believe order — and by being reliable and gentle. Some things I think might be more effective or less dangerous than what-to-believe orders: — Take/send her to a professional therapist or mind healer. (I think said there’s even someone on staff whose strongest magic is “mind” and “heal”?) I think this is unlikely plot-wise, though. (A possibly more plot-plausible cousin could be getting some professional advice on working with this sort of damage.) — More along the lines of the list: directions that encourage her to think honestly about herself and others (including himself). Instructions to take care of herself and develop her abilities might be useful, too. Encouraging her to put her skills to good use, to discourage her from feeling small and useless and like she can’t ever get anything right. — Continuing to be reliable and gentle, to listen to her and to react in calm and reasonable ways to her concerns, even when she’s telling him a truth he doesn’t like. He’s doing this well. It’s slow and frustrating and necessary. — Offering her an appropriate promise, good intentions or not getting mad at her for the truth or … ? That he really does want her to be the best Ahouva she can be, maybe. Sorting that out into something she won’t assume is full of loopholes would take some thought. — ETA: missed a blatant one. More hugs. She feels safe when he’s holding her (next story), and the keeper/kept bond piles up extra warm fuzzies. (And most people do/feel better with positive physical contact in their lives.) For something small that might or might not be useful, he could try ordering her not to flinch or cringe when he frowns. Cutting the body language to mental reaction feedback loop could be useful, and I theorize that it’s less likely to be damaging than, say, ordering her not to be scared of him, and easier to get honest feedback about.

            • Hmmhmm. I mostly like your suggestions (although some of the instructions/directions I think would work better as just encouragement; the emotional effects of the Bond are subtler tools and less likely to cause blunt damage so to speak), but there are two which, well. Making promises to her that say, essentially, that he is a good guy and is going to treat her well would be pretty ineffective in terms of convincing her to trust him. The problem there is that in her current mindset, she thinks any sort of “punishment” she would get would be perfectly reasonable, justified, and entirely her fault. Maybe if he promised not to punish her at all, but that still might not be enough for her to actually /believe/ it. Also I don’t approve of direct mindfuckery, which includes not just orders like “trust me” but also having people use mind-magic Workings, so that’s my issue with the first one. On the last note, I don’t know how effective it might be psychologically for other people, but being literally physically unable to flinch or cringe sounds horrible. Less damaging than “don’t be scared of me”, for sure, but I’d posit it’s more damaging than an occasional “believe this thing I just said”.

        • Tangential note: Leo and Yoshi – well, Leo, at least – was not ever ordered not to feel, and the dissociation was I am pretty sure due to emotional trauma in both cases. Aided by and proved inescapable from due to being Kept by subtly abusive Keepers, true, but not a direct result of orders. Leo at least could handle an order not to feel pretty easily without losing self; just his emotions. He’s got the Words for it. ~Inventrix

          • Yoshi’s orders tended to be “and put on a happy face about this. I like it when you’re happy, and you want me to be happy, don’t you?”

          • One of the pieces I read recently (I apologize, I don’t have the reference handy) had Yoshi asking Leo flat-out if he’d ever been ordered not to feel. IIRC, Leo didn’t answer directly, but his reaction suggested that he’d been subjected to something similar and that it was really bad. (Edited for grammar.)

            • Ahhh I realized you might be thinking of the log *I* posted, which I would link to but my domain is down while being transferred. *grumble* I think you might be thinking of the bit about Tethys wanting a Yoshi-doll? It’s not really an order to not feel, it’s more a complete… what’s the word. Not deprecation. Hrm. It is basically saying that his Keeper didn’t really care who he was or what he felt about anything, just so long as he behaved the way she wanted. Which I can see the similarity, but it’s quite different.

        • Yep, this. Well, mostly that starting something with “believe me” is something a lot of people add for emphasis, and with the unspecified “that”, his line came across as spur of the moment to me. Since he’s trying to be considerate I’d expect a bit more deliberation and care before giving orders that mess with her head directly.

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