Pairing/Charecter(s): John/Rodney, mention of past John/Nancy
Warnings/Spoliers: "Outcast," offscreen character death
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: "If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soulmate, would you want to know?"
Notes: Because popkin16 sent me this last night. And I hate her for it. Obivously.
Bashert is Yiddish for soulmate, or is at least according to Wikipedia. Basherte is a femine for soulmate, basherter is the masuline. Cormorants are a symbol of, "true Life/ Thereby regain’d," in Paradise Lost as well as a couple of other things, and hollyhocks are a symbol of ambition. And I think that's everything.
A Stargate: Atlantis Story
By unspoken promise, they never drink alone. It's too easy in a place like Pegasus, with senseless death waiting for them at every turn, to turn to alcohol when the missions get hard and they have to write back to Earth (again) to tell them that they're going to have to make up another cover story for someone's untimely end. That someone's died and they couldn't stop it.
They're drinking tonight though. Rodney's not sure why, only that there's been a post-it stuck to his laptop this morning with the words:
- JS -
He's tried asking too, but each time John had just pushed another cheap American beer into his hand and told him to drink up. The end result being that it's not until his fourth (or maybe fifth) drink that John actually says anything that might hint at the reason they'd be suffering through tomorrow's early morning staff meeting with raging headaches.
"If a clock," John asks, picking at the cuff of his wristband, "could count down to the moment you meet your soulmate, would you want to know?"
"If a clock-" he repeats.
"No, not that," Rodney interrupts. "I heard you the first time. Just, where the fuck is this coming from?"
Shrugging, "It's just a question."
"A stupid one. I mean the science behind it-"
"A hypothetical question."
"Ah. Well. No then."
John's eyebrows go up. "No?"
"I thought for sure you'd be a yes."
"I dunno." He takes a long pull of his beer. "Most people do."
"Well most people are idiots. Who wants a clock to tell you who you're allowed to fall in love with? Are you just supposed to sit on your hands until the alarm goes off? Or what if you finally meet and you're forty and she's fourteen? Or you wait and she doesn't and gets married to a dentist from Winnipeg and has like, three kids and a dog with the other guy? What are you supposed to do then? Besides which, my parents were as perfectly matched as any two people could be and theirs wasn't exactly what you'd call a caring relationship, you know?"
"Preaching to the choir here, Rodney."
"You wouldn't want to know either?"
"Fuck no," John says vehemently. "What good does knowing do anyone?"
"Then why'd you ask?"
He pops the top of another can and passes it over. "Here. Drink up."
When John is three, his father becomes in richest man in the tri-state area and celebrates by buying a small clockmaking company.
The company's name is Bashert and they don't just make ordinary clocks. They make beautiful, hand-carved coo coo clocks that are supposed to count down the hours until you meet your basherte - your soulmate, the person whom God Himself intended for you to marry.
The clock they make for John is beautiful, with cormorants carved into the dark wood and a ivory faceplate with five hands - three brass, one gold, one silver - and though it tells time with Swiss precision, it never calls the hour. It will only do that once, they tell him, at the moment he meets his basherte.
They make clocks for his parents as well. His mother's is small and delicate and refuses to wind, which they assure her is a sign that she's already met her basherter. His father's is large and decorated with carvings of hollyhocks and counts down all the minutes until he hires his new secretary, when it lets out a chime that their housekeeper will later swear is like the singing of angels.
John's mother drives her car off the bridge a week later.
"Do you believe in soulmates?" Rodney asks the next time they're out on the pier, nearly two months later.
"How Disney of you."
John snorts into his beer. "Not the Disney princess, Romeo and Juliet, love at first sight sort of way. That's just stupid."
"But of course," he says, rolling his eyes.
John elbows him before continuing. "I think it's just the person who gets you most in the world. The person who finishes your sentences, or says something at the same moment you were thinking the exact same thing, or, I dunno, is willing to put up with all your shit 'cause you put up with theirs. And, yeah, maybe lots of times that means they're the person you end up marrying, but sometimes it can be your brother, or your best friend, or, hell, your kid."
"Sounds like you've given it a lot of thought."
"Yeah. Well. Here. Have another beer."
When John's clock finally chimes, John's not there to hear it. He's sitting in an alien chair nine-and-a-half miles beneath the ice in the Antarctic with an image of the solar system hanging in the air above him.
Not that it matters. He knows down to the second just when he's supposed to meet his mysterious bashete. All things considered, it's a good thing everyone came running in when they did, so he'll never know which one of the people gathered around him at the time it actually is.
"Ronon tells me he met your ex-wife," Rodney says the day after John gets back from his father's funeral, and takes a shot of the single malt whiskey he'd brought back from Earth.
"I didn't even know you were married."
"I got that from the ex part, funnily enough. Why didn't you say anything?" It makes him wonder what else John is hiding, which is driving Rodney up the wall because it's not like John owes him anything. He has no reason to feel betrayed, or jealous, or even angry because they're just friends. Best friends, even, but that doesn't mean they have to tell each other everything.
"It's not that important. Lasted less than a year."
"Is that where all this talk of soulmates comes from?"
"God no," John snorts and pours them both another shot.
John's mother had killed herself because she wasn't her husband's bashete.
But sometimes John thinks that his dad never would have even looked at his secretary if mom had stuck around, because it was his secretary that helped tape him back together after. He never would've fallen in love with her otherwise. Never would have married her, certainly. His father had many failings, but philandering was not one of them.
John knows he would've never signed up for another tour if he'd still been married to Nancy. And, if he'd not resigned, he'd not have been there when Holland's bird went down. And, if he'd not gone after Holland, he would never have been sent to Antarctica, never would have sat in the Control Chair, and never would have gone to Atlantis.
So maybe everyone has a destiny. Or maybe not. John doesn't know. All he knows is he met four people at 09:38 EST on 19 May, 2004 and one of them is his bashete according to a coo coo clock with five hands that never once chimed the hour in all the years it hung in his bedroom growing up but otherwise kept perfect time.
God knows which one he's fallen in love with. And fuck it all if he's the wrong one, he's the one John wants.
"There's a company that builds clocks that counts down the moments until you meet your soulmate," John says next time their out on the pier.
There's not a beer can in sight, but Rodney has to ask as he sits down next to John on the edge. "Are you drunk?"
"Oh." He looks around hopefully for the beer again. None appears. Not even the cheap American stuff.
"There's a company that builds clocks that counts down the moments until you meet your soulmate and my dad had them build one for me when I was three. Which is about the shittiest thing a parent can ever do for their child, in case you're curious."
"I see. And when's this magical clock of yours supposed to go off?"
"That's just it. It already has. I checked while I was at Dad's funeral."
Rodney's heart stops. Ice water fills his veins. "And when was this?" he hears himself ask as if from a great distance.
"Well, I wasn't looking at my watch at the time, but I'm pretty sure it was the moment you asked me if I could show you where we were in the solar system."
He swallows. Loudly. "Really?"
"That going to be a problem?"
"What? No. Well, I mean..." He swallows again.
This is his chance. Now or never. Do or die. Fortune favors the-
God, Rodney thinks he's going to be sick. "It depends."
"Are we going to be the best buddies kind of soulmates," he asks hopefully, "or...?"
A smile turns up the corners of John's mouth in the seconds before he leans in and brushes their lips together. It barely qualifies as a kiss, but it's al the answer either of them needs.