A Beautiful Lifetime Event

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Fanfiction
Title: A Beautiful Lifetime Event
Author(s): Astolat
Date(s): 30 April 2005
Length: ~29,600 words
Genre: slash fanfiction, kidfic
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
External Links: A Beautiful Lifetime Event (Intimations)
A Beautiful Lifetime Event (AO3)
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A classic of McShep fandom, A Beautiful Lifetime Event charts the relationship of John and Rodney over the course of several years as they have a kid, move in together, and fall in love. In precisely that order. The story was widely recced even outside Stargate Atlantis fandom and lured several fans into SGA.

Honours

  • 1st place Future fic
  • 2nd place Story 2005
  • 3rd place AU fic

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

Usually when a story is rec'd by everyone and their dog, there is a reason. This story is no exception. Long, beautifully written and well paced, Shalott makes an awesome varition on MPREG (don't worry, there isn't a male-giving-birth in sight). Just think of it as a reversal on that old kids rhyme - first comes the baby in the baby carriage. Or, if you're in Atlantis, in the bizarre Ancient artifical womb). There are a couple of sequels available as well... [1]

2005

A Beautiful Lifetime Event by astolat. Nearly 30,000 words of John, Rodney, and their kid. Eventually, they have sex.

The thing I appreciate about this story is that it does for me what the show has not done, which is put McShep in a situation that is fraught and only experienced directly by the two of them, so they are forced to uniquely rely on each other and, in the fullness (very, very full) become lovers because they mean more to each other than anyone else in the world. Also, since they are de facto married, most ladies won't want to sleep with them.

To my mind, John and Rodney on the show don't exhibit anything like the particular relationship that would lead to them becoming lovers. Half the time, I'm not entirely convinced they're friends. I'm sure they like each other, but is it any more than someone cool at the office?

In this story, because John and Rodney live together and have to relate to each other over the daughter they love to pieces, the story brings the heightened emotional life that allows them to eventually get with the getting on.

The thing I can't figure out though is whether or not I think it takes too long to get to that sexual place. Like, on the one hand, people don't switch sexual orientation on a whim that much. And the John and Rodney in this story are pretty clearly straight. Like, even after they have sex with each other, still basically straight, just monogamous with a person who happens to be male. On the other hand, hello, slash story presented in slash fandom, that hand has been dealt before.[2]
I was also kind of amazed at how long it took them to realize they could be having sex, but I wouldn't want that to change because honestly I was on the edge of my seat reading most of the story wondering when the hell are these two guys going to figure out they're hot for each other. :) And when it happened I felt like jumping up and down with excitment because it happened at the right moment. (for me anyway it did)

I also loved all the intimate moments they had together before the sex was introduced. Like lying in bed together playing connect the dots, the backrubs, and just hanging out watching movies with their time off.

Overall, by the time they finally had sex I could really believe two straight guys had fallen for each other in all possible ways. [3]
This is one of my absolutely fave fics, ever. Seriously, I'm in love with this fic.

But yeah, I think the way that they're thrown in to that relationship is unique, and far beyond any standard 'omg, we're having a baby!' type thing. I think the fact that they struggle to find out that they are, essentially, 'married' is completely realistic.

I mean, they are straight guys, after all, who haven't attended any wedding cerimonies. So, it's a bit of a realisation to have.

And the way it takes so long for them to realise exactly what they mean to each other, exactly how it is they love each other (or rather, that they love each other in yet another way) screams of them. Sure, it'd take a while. And sure, it makes it far better than the standard 'omg, I aint straight anymore! EEEEEK!' type plot.

Mostly though? It's just so typical of John and Rodney. They're both very smart people, and I love them both to death, but they're not the best when it comes to personal matters. And it just seems so typical of them to take so long to realise that not only are they married, but they are also in love ith each other.

Also, the way those two things are mixed around? Brilliant!

Oh, and I'd agree with amothea that the trill of 'when do they realise?' was a great thing to have.

Oh, and the kid? Screams Marry Sue, but I Really Don't Care. I mean, she can do this, can do that, can do absolutely everything (though, she isn't to great at interacting with others. ie cousins and Disney World). But, it completely works, and just seems natural. She's the daughter of Rodney-the-genius and John-the-closet-geek-rejected-mensa-bloke-with-strong-ATA-gene. Of course she's gonna be damned special, damned clever and damned talented. It completely slots in with everything else. [4]
I'm normally not a fan of kid-fic. If it hadn't been astolat combined with being heavily recommended I might have given it a pass. I think part of why it worked for me is the child wasn't the focus of the story; the relationship between John and Rodney was the focus. There was a real feeling of things slowly evolving that felt organic and natural. In some stories the two characters are suddenly having sex and I end up wondering where that came from. This story might have gone a little too far the other way, but it was refreshing to see a natural progression from colleagues to friends to lovers. It seemed very un-guy-like that they would spend so much time sleeping in the same bed and never once consider having some kind of mutually satisfying sexual encounter. But I've happily suspended that sense of disbelief for much more implausible situations and it felt necessary to let the physical go for as long as possible. Plus I love stories that really dig deep into the relationship and this story gave me that in spades. [5]
There was a lot about this story that I liked, including the depiction of John's parents and his strained relationship with them, but the thing that took me out of the story as I read was the lack of sex. There was also a tendency to tell us what happened - I can understand the necessity for that because of the lengthy period of time covered, but after a while I felt like the story was very superficial because of that style. And once John and Rodney decided they were a family, and couldn't see women, and then started sleeping in the same bed? I started to think "come on, you'd be doing *something* together." Mutual handjobs. Sleepy good morning frottage before the brain engaged. Something.

I found Resonant's AU sex scene to be a far more realistic scenario about how John and Rodney would start doing the dirty.

One thing that did delight me was the mention of press coverage about the SGC - I remember giggling over the way Teal'c and Sam Carter and the rest of SG-1 reacted. [6]
This story bothered me deeply. The part where John gets a girlfriend, and Rodney basically guilts him into dumping her, bothered me on a number of levels. It seemed to say that one can't be a responsible parent AND have a relationship with someone other than the other parent. After that part, I couldn't finish the story; I was too upset for words. [7]
This was one of the very few stories I've read that have made "I'm not gay, I just want you" work for me. It's actually a button of mine, and one that usually throws me out of a story. In this one, the writer takes the time to set up how that might work, how two straight guys who started out as friends might fall like this, and I bought into it. It did take a while to get there; I knew that was where we were headed, and I really wanted to see it happen, so maybe my impatience added to it feeling longer than it needed to be. Maybe it wasn't, because I did appreciate the care taken with the set-up, which made it work for me, so, not sure. I wasn't bored, I was anticipating. *g* And I loved the "eureka" moment John had in the store; it made me smile. I also thought the uncomfortable Christian friend was done well; I know that guy, and he didn't feel like a caricature. What really struck me about the story was how she made not only "I'm not gay" work for me, but that it's a kidfic, too. One or the other working for me would impress me; both together makes me suspect voodoo. *g* It's not my favorite story of hers, but that anyone could write a story with both of those elements in it that I would enjoy was kind of remarkable. [8]
I finished the story feeling like I had missed a lot of scenes that would have made [the child] an actual person.

I think we have all developed a healthy fear of Mary Sue kid stories and try to avoid them as much as MPREG fiction because only very rarely are the results something worth reading (if you're not into badfic or humor, that is).

Kid stories usually either mention the kid only in passing, or concentrate on it to an extend that makes us scramble for the insulin injector.

This story felt like the author has done her utmost to avoid any of the obvious, clichéd traps rife in MPREG and kid stories, and in doing so, gone into the other direction - too far, too fast. "A Beautiful Lifetime Event" is the ultimate anti-kid fic.

Yes, it has a child as one of the main characters, but that child seems strangely devoid of a character, of personal traits of her own, of opinions, or interactions with her parents beyond the most basic ones. She has no hair color, no eye color, no personal preferences. In the whole 29,581 words, the girl remains as nebulous as the mist in "Home" (apart from sometimes being a mini-Rodney or a mini-John).... [snipped]

All in all, I thought the story had tremendous potential -- which it never utilized.

So no, I don't like "A Beautiful Lifetime Event" very much. It left me with an overpowering feeling of dissatisfaction. [9]
I really don't think the story is anti-kid. Like zvi_likes_tv, I really didn't think that the story was supposed to be focused on the child; it was about the John/Rodney relationship with their daughter on the periphery.

I think this story really tried to strike a good balance. For people who go all ga-ga over a kid in a story, there she was. For people who don't like kids, she was only around when she had to be to advance the plot. That's the theory, at least. Problem, though, as I see it, is that it didn't work. There wasn't enough of the kid for those who like them and for those that don't, her being there at all was too much.

It seems to me that this is a story that tried very hard to find a good balance on a subject that doesn't seem to have much middle ground. So, instead of people either loving it or hating it, you get the greater majority of people having "so-so" feelings about it. [10]
Best FF That Proves That the Key to a Successful Long-Term Relationship Is Knowing When to Call for a Sitter, When to Hand Over a Lot of Chocolate, and When to Drive Very Very Fast. A Beautiful Lifetime Event, by Shallot, aka astolat. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. OK. I really didn't want to recommend this one right now, because everyone else on earth has done everything in their power to get people to read it, including bribing, begging, and threatening with pointy weaponry. I figured if I waited a few months, at least I'd be getting a few new fans who might not have seen it yet. Because they were, like, from Mars. But, OK, I can't resist, and anyway I keep quoting this and Best Beloved has no idea what I'm talking about. So, fine. Anyway, there's always a chance that one of you has been waiting, on some ridiculous grounds. In which case I'm here to put a stop to that. (And no, I don't even want to hear it - "But I hate kidfic!" "But I hate John Sheppard!" "But I have no idea what SGA even is!" These are not acceptable excuses, people. The only excuses I'll accept for not reading this story are: 1) That you've been saving lives 24/7 ever since it was posted, 2) That you've been writing FF 24/7 since it was posted**, or 3) That you are in fact recently arrived from Mars***.) You don't need to know the canon to love this, but if you just can't bear the thought of reading it blind, you can go study this thread (aka "A Foolish Mortal Tries to Avoid SGA") first. But that's only good for a 24-hour reprieve, mind. So, what do I have to say about this story other than read now now now? Well, it's interesting, because it's kind of backwards: baby leads to marriage leads to love leads to sex. Which is not generally the formula for a successful relationship, no, but if anyone was going to manage, it'd be these guys; they're just looking for an excuse to marry, anyway, 'cause it's not like anyone else understands them. And I love that this gives this pairing the one thing it does not (yet) have: a sense of history, of depth, of more there than anyone else can understand. Which, of course, is exactly what a long-term relationship is. So, yes, it's a work of genius. And there will be a test on this. [11]

2006

'Oops' to me means accidents, and there are two cliches that occur to me when I think 'Accidents' and 'Atlantis'. The first is, of course, male pregnancy, and the second is 'malfunctioning ancient devices.' So I wanted to pick a story that combined the two in some way, and while this isn't really an mpreg story, as neither of the men carries the child, it does play with some of the tropes. The one thing I would say that stretches my incredulity, though, isn't the kid element, but rather the length of time it takes for the guys to remember that they have dicks. But it's not a bug, it's a feature of this story, meaning that the story has a long time to do the relationship build-up, detailing out how they realize that they are in love. [12]

2007

Her story "A Beautiful Lifetime Event" -- I avoided this one for ages and ages, because the title and the first few paragraphs absolutely screamed "mpreg" and "kidfic", two sub-genres I generally loathe as pure fanwank of the highest form. So finally, eventually, I read it. And read, and read ... and then ran smack into the most absolutely amazing insight about John's parents. The way that John's relationship with his parents is depicted in that story just blew my mind clean out into space, because I've never seen anybody do this before and it is just so perfect and RIGHT that I wanted to stop right there and scream from the rooftops, "Hey, all you people writing about John and his parents! THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE!" That one part -- the John and his parents scenes -- I would rec unreservedly to any fan who wants to write John's family issues. The rest of the story ... not so much, because I was able to sidestep my squicks due to the way it was presented (and actually, the whole thing left me with a happy silly grin) but I sure as hell wouldn't recommend the story to a gen fan, and as a gen fan, if someone had approached me with this story and prefaced it by saying, "So, this machine takes John and Rodney's DNA and makes this baby and they end up as a married couple and ..." my first reaction would have been, "And you want me to read this WHY?" [13]
This one is the very first SGA fic I ever read, and I know I'm not the only person for whom that's true. It's a kidfic (which you should probably brace yourself for, if you're going to hang around here for very long), perhaps the Mother of All Kidfic in SGA. It starts with what has become a cliche in the fandom, a good old accident with alien technology. John and Rodney find themselves the parents of a girl. Of course, this leads to them getting together in the end, but the story isn't so much about that. It's about family. If I could only rec you two SGA fics, one of them would be this one. [14]

2011

NC-17. First time. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. It a love story in reverse. Baby-'marriage'-love. And by the time John realizes they could be having sex too, it's just the icing on the cake. [15]

2013

Mpreg w/out the actual pregnancy. Alien tech. Kidfic with a brilliant kid. Heterosexual Life Partnership until more than half of the story. A really good read <3 I suck at giving reviews :P [16]
Nice read inbetween. Stargate Atlantis-fanfiction. Surprising take on m/m-reproduction. Slow romance (took them literally years to notice^^). :) [17]

2016

I think we can all agree that astolat is the best Stargate Atlantis fanfiction author there is. This story is definitely one of my favourite stories so far. It’s wonderfully written and slow build without getting frustrating. The kid-fic and accidental baby acquisition was well-handled and thanks to ancient technology, this fic can be enjoyable for people who despise mpreg, because there isn’t any in this fic. This can also be read by people who haven’t finished the series. It is set somewhere in season 1 so there are no spoilers except maybe for the first episodes. There was literally nothing I didn’t like about this story, which is a very rare thing when it comes to fanfiction because – believe it or not – I am incredibly picky and not afraid to point out flaws in my review. Okay, there’s only one flaw: there was an ending. I would have loved to continue reading.

Note: I cannot comment on the quality of the podfics because I didn’t listen to them yet. [18]

Related Fanworks

There are two podfics of the story: one by anatsuno (2 hours 57 minutes) and one by general jinjur (2 hours 54 minutes).

References

  1. JR.'s Parlor
  2. comment by zvi likes tv at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 24, 2005
  3. comment by amothea at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  4. comment by neth dugan at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  5. comment by bluster at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  6. comment by the pouncer at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  7. comment by tafkarfanfic at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  8. comment by carolyn claire at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 25, 2005
  9. comment by slash spam at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, August 28, 2005
  10. comment by mythdefied at The Cutting Board - (now offline); archive link; another archive link, September 3, 2005
  11. rec by thefourthvine at Slashy Nominations 120: Love Me Long, June 3, 2005
  12. Rec50; WebCite, 2006
  13. comment by sholio at Meta-meta: on fanfic, genre and categorization; Archive, March 22, 2007
  14. from Merelyn at Massive SGA Recs Set, July 25, 2007
  15. 2011 rec by lilyleia78 at Stargate: Atlantis Recs
  16. from Jarta at Goodreads, January 2013
  17. from Calathea at Goodreads, January 2013
  18. Becca's Recs