John had hid in his bedroom for three days after he’d read his wrist.
His father had tried talking to him, knocking on the door constantly to no avail and simply resigning himself to leaving snacks and water outside of John's room so at least the boy would get some form of sustenance, even if they were from Fruit Gushers. His cousin Jade had visited the first day to see how getting the name had went and ended up sitting against the bedroom door while calling out to him because he wouldn’t unlock it. She'd come back the next two days as well, waiting patiently as she asked her uncle why his son was such a wuss. John had popped out of his room to throw a soda can at her after that comment, and she'd squealed and ran back downstairs, which may or may not have worked a small smile onto John's face before he promptly forced his frown back into place. She'd found out her name months ago, now wearing a ridiculous, bright green and fuzzy snap bracelet over it while hopping around even more than before, if that was physically possible.
And then there was John, wearing an old band tee shirt, boxers and unmatched socks while he stuffed his face with stale popcorn and watched enough television to make his bright blue eyes water from the lack of blinking.
He was stuck in a nightmare. A guy. A guy named Dave. He didn’t know how old this dude was, he didn’t know what he looked like, he didn’t even know if he liked guys. Not that John liked guys. Because John wasn’t a homosexual.
But apparently his soul was?
God, this was terrible. This was just awful. He began to wonder why he was even studying this at school. This entire thing was a crapshoot! No one knows what their soulmate is going to look like. No one knows how old their soulmate is. No one knows what their soulmates sexuality is, no one knows what their soulmates personality is like, no one knows how far away from this person they even are, no one knows no one knows, no one knows! There was just no knowledge! The extent of John's knowledge was that it was an 8-bit name and a stressful few days, that much was clear. This guy Dave could be an abusive jerk. He could be a cuddly plump dude, who the hell knew?
Not John, that was for damn sure.
On day three of sulking, his father picked the lock on his door, using a bobby pin provided by the ever present Jade. She was still sitting outside of John's room, braiding her long brown hair and waving at him when the door opened. "Incoming!" She called out as his Dad slid in, opting to sit outside the room so they could have some time to talk. John noticed, but didn’t really care, keeping his eyes glued to his television screen where Nick Cage was rubbing lemon juice on the back of the Declaration of Independence. His Dad cleared his throat, but John just sighed heavily, readjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose slightly before reaching for his popcorn bowl. His hand moved around, but as his fingers just brushed over unpopped kernels he soon realized it was empty. Again.
"Well, there's another thing in my life that is now empty and meaningless," He mumbled, his hand falling back to his lap. This was a mess.
“Son, this is getting rather ridiculous,” His father sighed, sitting down on the end of his bed. John only tugged his knees up to his chest while looking at his television intently, “You can’t simply hide in here over this forever.”
“Why not?” John asked, not breaking eye contact with the screen, “If I never leave this room I’ll never have to meet him, and it’ll all work out perfectly.”
The silence was staggering, even Nic Cage pausing for dramatic effect and realizing what he’d just said John felt his heart drop to his stomach. Wow, he was a jerk. Finally blinking his glazed over eyes, he found himself looking at his father with a guilty expression.
His Dad had never found his soulmate, and here he was wishing he could avoid his.
Before he could even get the apology out, his Dad lifted a hand, smiling softly, “It’s fine, John, I understand what you meant by that, I take no offense. You're simply upset. And it’s perfectly understandable to be afraid of the unknown, but… There is someone out there that will love you unconditionally, to be there for you whenever you need them, to be your best friend, and you’re focusing on something like this?”
“Dad, it’s a boy name," John sighed, running his hands through his unruly black hair before closing his eyes.
“John, it’s the person who is meant to be with you,” His father mocked back, wearing a friendly smile. “Stop focusing on gender, for goodness sake, it’s hardly important. You should love someone for who they are, not what body they’re in.”
"But what if I'm not attracted to him at all? You can't have a relationship with someone you're not even attracted to! What if he's rude and hurtful? What if he's horrible, what if he's old, what if he's loud and annoying, what if he's-"
"John." Looking at him with an almost disapproving expression, Dad's brow furrowed, "Why are all of these things negative?"
Looking down, John caught a glance of the name under the watch he’d started wearing, the red shocking against pale skin. After a moment, he covered his face with his hands. "Because-" Why were they all negative? When he thought it was a girl, there was always the possibility that she was going to be nice and perfect and wonderful, but now all he could think of was some mean, tough dude.
"Because I'm sexist?" He settled on eventually, letting out a sad noise, "I have no idea!" He whined, peaking out at his father between his fingers. “Was it like this for you? When you first got yours?”
“Worse, actually,” Looking up at his Dad, John saw that his father was trying to hold back a chuckle as he smiled fondly, his eyes getting a far away look as he obviously went back into a memory, “When I found mine out, I called up my brother and asked him for help, seeing as he was traveling in Brazil at the time and had found his wife three years earlier. I ended up losing the call because of the distance, and I didn’t leave my house for a week and went through about 8 pints of Ben and Jerry’s. I think that may have actually been when I started smoking the pipe. Your Uncle Harley had to come back to America and drag me out by my ears."
“Wow, and you’re telling me to calm down? You started smoking out of stress and took a man out of the depths of Brazil, I’m just going to Nick Cage."
"Yes, well, point being, I'm actually glad I left my house," He pointed out, "Two years later I ended up adopting a rather wonderful and accepting son, and now I'm having to tell him to be the wonderful and accepting person that he is when it comes to his own soulmate," Chuckling, his father gave John a smile.
"Well when you put it that way. . . " Rolling his eyes fondly, John grinned widely before reaching over, wrapping his arms around his Dad tightly. “. . . I'm sorry. But also, thank you.”
“Of course,” His Dad brushed off, patting his son’s back, “It’s my job.”
"Dad?" John asked, dropping his arms away from his Dad and ticking his head slightly to the left. "Do you. . . " Looking for wording that didn't make him sound like a complete jerk, John spoke slowly, "Do you ever wonder why you haven't found your mate?"
His father didn't look offended, but rubbed at his chin lightly with his thumb and forefinger in thought. After a beat of silence, he shook his head, "In all actuality, no. I used to, and I remember being upset over the fact that it has been years since I figured out their name but I hadn't found them. However I realized soon enough that I would meet them when I was supposed to, and not a moment sooner. After that, I began to relax a bit. Plus, I'm still young enough to enjoy life with them when I do find them, so I hardly see it as a problem. It has been seventeen years, yes, but they've had to wait as well, and I take solace in that fact."
John gave a small smile at that, looking at the floor. He wished he could be more like his father. Sure, his initial reaction had been a bit worse, but overall his Dad seemed to have gotten along in life swimmingly, even getting wise in the fact of having to wait while John was just acting like a mess. Seemingly sensing this, Dad patted John's back. “Now Jade has been waiting to talk to you for three days, could you go out there and assure her that you are, in fact, still alive and haven't perished in front of your television screen?”
Letting out a snort, John nodded, standing and stretching slightly. “She’s your niece, you know, you should know how to fix her when she gets flipped out over something like this.”
“But she’s still your cousin, your age, and your responsibility at the moment, seeing as your silence was the thing that brought her over here.”
“Well meh,” John stuck his tongue out, poking his head out of his room to look at his cousin who smiled up at him immediately. "Jade! I think I need some Ben and Jerry’s, wanna come with to grab some?”