It’s time for more article type stuffination! (Don’t judge me, I make up words a lot.) So there’s been something on my mind recently, and while I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve come to a full conclusion over the situation and my feelings toward it, I have given it a lot of thought. I also wanted to “get it off my chest” as it were, and, who knows, maybe someone will actually agree with me.
But I happen to know for a fact that not everyone will, and that’s totally cool! If people were meant to agree on everything, the world wouldn’t have so much diversity, and we’d all get bored a lot quicker. So feel free to carry on with your day and eat this proffered donut :D!
Anyway! Let’s get down to business to defeat … the Huns … wait. Sorry, had that song stuck in my head earlier. What I mean to say is let’s go back in time a bit to a particular Circle Mage and Templar who had a tale of forbidden love so steamy it’ll cloud your computer monitor before you can read the rest of this. You see, there was this vacant study that had a particularly secluded coat closet …
Young kids: This better not be a mushy kiss scene!
Grumpy Old FYC: SHADDUP! I’ll tell this story the way Varric would tell it ‘n’ you’ll like it!
I know, I’m lame. In all seriousness, however, the first meeting with Cullen at the Circle Tower and, in specific, his running away from the f!Mage Warden, is usually taken to be a romantic gesture from a young, nervous templar “shyly evading a romantic encounter,” or at least, him being too nervous to carry on a conversation and taking off.
For those of you who’ve never actually gotten this outcome and don’t mind a few spoilery tidbits, here’s the basic conversation options taken to get there:
Cullen: Oh, uh … um … hello, I’m glad to see your harrowing went smoothly.
You: Why are you stuttering?
Cullen: What, I … I’m fine. I uh ah … I’m just glad you’re alright, you know?
You: Would you really have struck me down?
Cullen: I would have felt terrible about it. But um … but I serve the Chantry and the Maker, and I will do as I am commanded.
You: Maybe we could go elsewhere and … continue our discussion?
Cullen: E-elsewhere? W-what do you mean?
You: I’ve seen the way you look at me.
Cullen: Oh my goodness. I-if you’re saying what I think … that would … no, that would be really inappropriate and I … I couldn’t. I … I should go.
At this point, the conversation is over and he runs away, never to be seen again (at least, not until later in the game).
While I do find this rather humorous, there’s a part of me that feels badly for taking this route, and honestly, it’s the bigger part. I find it much more satisfying to speak with him in a non-flirtatious manner where the conversation ends with his offer to let you talk to him if you should ever need to.
But the question is why do I feel so bad about sending him running away?
I wasn’t quite sure at first, and considered that perhaps I just didn’t want to embarrass him (which he clearly is). No one likes being embarrassed after all, but somehow, that just wasn’t a good enough answer for me. So naturally, I analyzed the situation as I’m so prone to doing, and came to realize that this actually isn’t as “cutely a romantic” situation as it so frequently gets glossed over as being.
I’d like to point out Gregoir and Irving are very probably aware of his fascination/infatuation with Surana/Amell and charged him with her destruction as a test of his faith and commitment to the Chantry and his role as Templar, period.
Promise, that wasn’t babbling up there. I agree with you on the reasons he runs away. It’s not “OMG the pretty girl is talking to me!” It’s, “Holy shitballs, we’re in trouble!”
I got a review on Cold Barrel Zero that essentially boiled down to “I don’t normally ship Shenko, but this was so good!”.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, I get reviews like this fairly often.
I know what the essence of reviews like that mean: this isn’t normally their cup of tea, but there was something in my writing that pulled them in, something that kept them reading anyway despite the fact that they normally would have backbuttoned right out (and I’m always curious what that “something” was: I tag all of my stuff as Kaidan Alenko/Shepard (F) on FF.N and Kaidan Alenko/Female Shepard on AO3, so it’s not like they could have gotten there by mistake).
But at the same time, it always leaves me a little perplexed and feels (sometimes more than) a little backhanded. Especially when it’s followed up by or paired with a statement like “I don’t even usually like Kaidan, but I like this!” or one of its many variants.
Look, I’m actually gonna toot my own horn for a second. I like my Kaidan. I feel like, by and large, he’s pretty faithful to canon!Kaidan (and I’ve had several other people tell me the same, so I know it’s not just my attachment to my Kaidan). So when I get comments like “I don’t normally even like him!” it always makes me stop and wonder if they’ve just never paid him any actual attention, or if I’ve done something and made him horribly out of character.
Like I said - I (usually) completely understand the intent of a review like that, and I am grateful, please don’t get me wrong. But it still leaves me scratching my head as an author and wondering why. Why leave a review that feels backhanded (especially when it’s so easy to take the backhanded out of it and focus on what you did like rather than that you normally don’t)? Why did you like him here but not in game? Just…why?
I get this a lot for Kaidan, too. I also get it for Garrus and Zevran. I think it’s because yes, you’re right, the reader never considered him/looked at him closely enough/thought about the character like we have.
I get readers who came for Garrus and try out the Kaidan fic and get similar responses. And vice versa.
I wouldn’t feel too bad about it. You widened someone’s perspective.