The Education of John Matheson:
Post Doctorate - Pre-conception

by Mistress Sarah

Summary: This story takes place after the events of Doctorate. In this story, John Matheson-Gideon is asking himself the question "What do I have to live for now?" while Matthew Gideon-Matheson's ghost is trying to teach John his final lesson in life and love; that it's OK to live.
Series: This is the final part of The Education of John Matheson series in which John Matheson is taught about life and love by:
Sarah Chambers (Elementary), Dureena (Preparatory), Galen (Bachelors), Max Eilerson (Masters), Matthew Gideon (Doctorate), Matthew Gideon (Post Doctorate)
Disclaimer: They aren't my characters, they belong to other people, but I dusted them off and borrowed them :D.
Rating: PG-13
Pairings : John Matheson/Matthew Gideon
Pregnant : John Matheson
Notes: regular- speech that is spoken. [regular font] - John Matheson's telepathing. Italics - Matthew Gideon's ghost talking. Yes, I said G-H-O-S-T.

Mistress Sarah would like to place the blame for this story on Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked Ice-cream and the Space Witches. The combination of those two things causes rather unusual ideas.

One month after Matthew Gideon’s death.
Earth-Terra Prime. Geneva.
Scene: Chambers-Eilerson’s residence, but first and foremost in John Matheson-Gideon’s mind.

They thought I was crazy.

They were trying to hide that thought from me, but I could almost sense it.  They were trying to be compassionate with me, trying to cheer me, but I knew what they were thinking.  John? This depression of yours is a little severe, perhaps… it’s not healthy.  Perhaps; you’re crazy, was the thought that I was hearing loud and clear even though they had far too much savoir faire to say it.

Perhaps; they were correct. It is often a self-fulfilling prophecy among Telepaths, that once that little doubt enters your mind, it silently eats away at you, until you convince yourself that you are in fact, crazy.  You start to ask yourself day and night, are you coming unhinged?  The first time, you assure yourself, that no, you’re not crazy. But then, your repeated denials become less and less effective. Because it’s always in the back of your mind, and then, you start to doubt yourself.

So, I savagely crushed the thought of my possible mental instability, as though it was a mental weed in the garden of my mind. But still the thought lingered in the back of my gray matter, where it would occasionally re-surface especially at night or when I was alone. You’re acting deranged, it would say and then I’d feel terrified that the little voice was right.

Maybe, I was… crazy...


I wasn’t acting in a way my friends had already decided would be normal for John Matheson to act, considering he had just lost his husband.  No doubt, Sarah, Max and the rest meant well, but they just didn’t understand.  But, thankfully he did understand, for he was still with me. I had woken from my broken sleep one night, weeping uncontrollably in my grief, and I had felt him next to me, trying to calm me and encourage me.  Consolation had led to love making, which had certainly surprised the two of us. When the love of your life is dead, you usually don’t expect that his ghost is going to show up and seduce you, repeatedly.

Think about it, did you really expect your dead lover to show up, push you gently with his spectral hands onto your bed, and then slowly and lovingly seduce you?  I could feel his roving hands, his hungry mouth, and his gentle touch on my body. And I could most assuredly feel him climax hard inside my body when he came and hear him call my name loudly.  I could hear his soft whispers when he nuzzled my ear, telling me that it was ok to grieve, but that I had to remember that he loved me still.

The first night he had appeared, I felt like I had been drowning, lost in my bereavement, and he had ended up making love with me for most of the night. His gentle kiss of consolation had ignited a need for solace in me to which Matthew had responded ardently.  Begging him to make love with me, I had been overjoyed when Matthew had agreed to my request and to our mutual surprise, and delight, it had succeeded.

Please don’t leave alone in this grief, I’d beg him silently during our time together, and he would stay with me.  I’d be happy, because I wasn’t alone again, but then I’d secretly be afraid.  He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be, as he was DEAD, so it was possible that I was creating him.

Our brief time together, while he had lived, had found me the dominant partner in our relationship, and Matthew had been unhappy with it. Now, the roles had been reversed, and Matthew was enjoying the fact that he was completely in charge.  I couldn’t touch him so I couldn’t do a damn thing except respond physically to my ghost lover. He enjoyed that, I know, why else would he delight in seducing me so often?

I’d be trying to think, and I just couldn’t, as I was weighed down with this incredible depression.  It had sunk into my bones, and into my soul, and its bleakness scared me. Sitting on the sofa, I’d think of how I had to get the shuttle clean again or some other task and that I couldn’t find the energy or the strength to do it.   Matt would talk to me, and I’d answer him in monosyllables, and then I’d feel him sitting next to me, his hand gently stroking my leg and then moving higher.  The tingles would spread, and then soon, I’d find myself with my legs spread apart, sporting a raging hard on.

He’d take my hands; and used them to unbutton my shirt, and then he’d tease me, undoing my belt slowly, while I felt his mouth on my neck and chest.  I’d close my eyes tightly during his seductions, so I wouldn’t see the fact that he wasn’t really there. No, I could feel his lips nuzzling my neck, his love bites on my nipples, and his hands were most assuredly on my hard-on, stroking it while I whimpered and sighed.

Then, my hands would slowly unzip my pants as Matthew used them to continue to play with me.  He’d free me from my underwear, and then he’d tease and taunt me by nuzzling my obvious desire.  His mouth would be sucking me, and I’d feel his wet, warm mouth, but when I tried to rest my hands on his head, so I could stroke his hair, I’d realize again that he wasn’t really there.

I closed my eyes, and let my ghost seduce me, tease and taunt me while inside I feared him.  He was so damn real to me, and when he loved me, it was the only time I felt alive since he had died. But, he was...dead, and he shouldn’t be lying next to me in bed, seducing me. I shouldn’t be feeling this.

He was Dead, and even imaginary lovemaking shouldn’t have left me slightly sore the next day.  Apparently, being dead shortened the recovery period considerably, as Matthew was already up and ready for seducing me.  The first night together, Matthew had made love to me easily a dozen times, and I hadn’t expected that.

If you did expect your dead lover to show up and seduce you a dozen times, then you were most certainly… crazy.

STOP IT! CEASE AND DESIST WITH THAT WORD! I mentally yelled at myself, grateful that I was able to hide my inner turmoil from him.   The first few days, he had heard everything I was thinking, so I had tried to work on strengthening that most private of mental shields. Both Matthew and I had practiced on it, not wanting to intrude too firmly into the other’s mind.  Now, we could even play chess together, hiding our potential moves from the other person until my body moved the chess piece.

It was a good thing, because hearing voices in your head, constantly, especially that of your dead lover….

Stop it.

I rubbed my head softly as I had a killer headache forming right between my eyes.  There was also a sudden change in my mind that meant that Matt was back… from wherever he had been. He disappeared occasionally, claiming that that even the dead had errands to run, and I had learned to accept it, but I still feared that each time, he wouldn't be able to find his way back to me again. So I crushed the thoughts of my possible insanity and I welcomed him back warmly.

He WAS real, I thought to myself privately.

He HAD to be for if he wasn’t, then I was deeply, deeply disturbed.

If you thought about it, Matt was most assuredly dead. I had been there when he died, and I had felt it. Maybe, this depression I was experiencing wasn’t normal. Maybe, I had been injured mentally?  I had felt a significant amount of pain when he had died, as though… part of my soul had been ripped from me.

Maybe, that explained why I just seemed to be mired in this depression. Maybe, my soul had been damaged?  Or maybe I was CRAZY. Yes! What an exciting choice of possible options behind door number 1 or door number 2. I was either on the verge of a complete mental snap or maybe I was already crazy, but I just hadn’t realized it. I mean the Dead do not show up on a daily basis and tell you to shave your beard as they don’t like it? Do they?

God, I was in free fall, happy one moment because Matthew was with me, sad when he wasn’t, fearful when he was with me, and then happy when he was gone. Through it all, all I knew was that each day it got harder and harder to get out of bed whenever “Matthew” wasn’t there, forcing me to fight.  Even if I was… making him up, at least he was prodding me towards living.

Do you think that might count positively in my sanity defense?

"Yes, your Honor. We're afraid that Matheson's a little crazy right now, but at least the voice in his head was trying to be helpful."

No, I wasn’t crazy, because if I still had part of Matthew’s soul with me, then perhaps, Matthew had part of mine. That’s why I was so depressed by Matthew’s death. I was wounded deeply, and I was bleeding to death, spiritually. That certainly sounded better than being stark, raving nuts. I was damaged, that’s why I was free falling right now.

Maybe I was so damaged, that maybe I’d be with Matthew shortly.  I’d like that. Really, I would.

Then I would be at peace, and I'd be with him. I had wanted to die with him, had been prepared to do so, and he had to ruin it, by pushing me away at the last moment.  Death would have been preferable, I had thought to myself. It would be better than this constant questioning of my sanity.

I'd have peace then, and I'd be with him.

Please, let it be soon.

Matthew had caught that brief idea during our first few days together before I had managed to create that mental shield. He had been so furious with me that he had cursed and screamed at me.  I had been lying in bed, when I had thought that I really wanted to die.  He had caught that thought and he had been furious. Repeatedly, he had yelled and cursed at me for wanting to die, until I had broken down and wept.  I had wanted to die, so my grief and despondency would end, I had bitterly wept.  There was this gaping wound in my life and in my soul, and it was sucking my energy and my will to live from me. My tears had upset Gideon as he had continued to yell at me for being such a coward.

I never thought you’d be the one to roll up in a ball and hope for death, John, NEVER.

I had somehow maneuvered myself into the fetal position trying to escape from this non-physical attack of Matt’s. I had been rocking like crazy, screaming, and had been trying to drown out Matthew’s derisive voice. Matthew hadn’t understand that I had been trying and fighting so hard to live,  but  I was trapped in this emotional black hole that had been sucking at my strength. Lacking the strength to continue to fight, I had needed something to focus on, but there was nothing that seemed to break me from this unending depression. I had tried to ignore Matt, wishing vainly that he’d leave me for good next time.  It had been bad enough to have visits from the Dead, but for him to have such contempt for me, I couldn’t bear it.

He had been disappointed in my weakness, but I had been trying so hard to fight. Matthew, why didn’t you believe me? Did you think that just because you had died, that I was the type of man that would willingly suicide?  Couldn’t you think that there was possibly something seriously wrong with me?  What the HELL was my problem? I was REALLY fucking crazy, arguing with the Dead.

I think I had really scared Matthew, as I had been unable to stop screaming and weeping, even though a small voice in my head had been warning me that I was cracking up.  He had suddenly realized that he had deeply disturbed me, and Matt had been profoundly upset with himself for his unintended cruelty.  He had tried to console me and he had tearfully apologized to me, while I still had wept uncontrollably. His apologies had made everything worse for me, as I had suddenly had felt like I didn’t deserve his compassion.  He had been right, I had been totally wrong, and I had just wanted to die.

[Let me die, please. Please.]

I had been sending everything to him, my shields shredded, when suddenly Matt had been next to me, whispering. John. John, I didn’t truly understand how badly my death affected you. I’m sorry.

Hesitantly, I had felt Matt touch me and I had continued to cry until I had no tears left.

John, forgive me.  His arms around me, my ghost had held me tightly.  I shouldn’t have yelled at you.  I am so sorry that I said those things to you. I love you, John so I’m worried about you.   The two of us will work on this together, ok? Now, go to sleep. I’ll hold you until you wake up.  I am so sorry, John.

For a moment, I had wanted that desperately, just to be held and consoled, but I had realized that Matthew had been right to be originally scornful of me. I was contemptible. Lowly. I had hated being like that, and I had known that in life, Matthew had nothing but derision for people that had whined and mewled about how rough their life was.  He’d had held me, and he would have consoled me, but he’d have lost all respect for me.

I had told him to leave me, so I had to find my way out this depression by myself; without his help.  I would be strong, and worthy of his respect, but he had refused, and he had told me that he wouldn’t abandon me.  Abandon? ABANDON?

Abandon… like some sick kitten on the street. God, I had heard his disdain, his disgust and his scorn for my weakness, loud and clear. It had been like acid on the open wound of my soul.

So I had screamed at him, had told him to leave me alone, had ordered him to go back to wherever the sanctimonious death lurked and for him to leave me to my own personal, private hell. I had grabbed his class ring off my finger, and I had thrown it against the wall.  “Goddamn it! LEAVE ME. You aren’t making it any easier for me. Go to heaven, go to hell, go to fucking purgatory. BUT YOU JUST FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE, MATTHEW. YOU’RE FUCKING DEAD. Just get out of my fucking face, so I don’t see you looking down your goddamn nose at me.” Wildly, insanely, I had shrieked at him, and had told him in no uncertain terms to get the fuck out of my life.

He had left. Quickly.

And suddenly I had realized what I had done.

I had banished him.

[Matt? Come back, PLEASE?  I’m sorry. I am. Oh God.]

He hadn’t come back, and suddenly I had gotten nervous.  Where was his ring? He had given it to me, as a promise and commitment between us, and I had been unable to see it. Oh God! I hadn’t lost it, had I? I had begun searching for it and soon I had begun to panic, wondering why I had done such a stupid, careless thing.  It was all I had left of him, and I had thrown it away.  I had gotten absolutely manic looking for it, hoping that it hadn’t fallen in a grate or something.  Damn it. Why had I taken it off, repudiating it and all it represented?  Oh my God, where was it? It was all I had of him and I had rashly thrown it away in a fit of pique.

I had finally found it almost an hour later, as it had rolled underneath the bed.  Savagely, I had put it back on my ring finger, and had vowed never to take it off again now that it was back on my hand.  Stupid. John. What a fucking crazy thing to do. Matt hadn’t been scornful, he had wanted to help me, and I had absolutely freaked out.

[Matt?  Please come back? I’m really sorry.]

Matt had been deeply upset that he hurt me, I think, as he had left me alone for several days or else I had emotionally wounded him with my hysterical verbal attack.  For whatever reason, I think he had wanted to give me a chance for some privacy, and I had appreciated it.  For those days alone I had lain in bed, staring at the ceiling above me, and I had decided that I had to find something to live for, so I’d be worthy to wear Matthew’s class ring.  And so I had thought, and I had pondered until finally, I had thought of something to work toward. It was a cracked idea, originally, and then it had become more and more the hope that I was resting my sanity on.  It was possible, and with some help from Sarah, it would work.

But Sarah would never do it, if she thought I wasn’t … emotionally healthy.  That was what I was striving for, a façade of calmness and acceptance that would fool Sarah.  It would be damn hard, as she knew me better than anyone else with the exception of Matthew.  So I had begun practicing my old familiar façade of “John Matheson” to prepare for Sarah.  Calm, cool, level-headed.  Inside, I was in tatters, but outside, I had to appear serene and accepting of what happened. The beard had to go, and I had ruthlessly cleaned the shuttle so that I would return it to Max in better shape than I had received it.  Each day, I had spent several hours piloting the shuttle, as I had needed to concentrate on something besides Matthew.

He had arrived quietly, a few days later, and I had been lying in bed, trying to figure out how exactly I could make my idea reality. I had formed the plan, now I needed to implement it and I had been exploring what options were available to me. His ghost had seemed rather subdued, as though he had expected me to sprinkle holy water on him and send him back.

John? His mental tone had been very quiet, and I had heard his sorrow in it. Matt had seemed extremely tentative, as though he wasn’t sure what type of response he would get from me.

“Matt? You’re back?”  Stupid question, John, no, he was here to sell magazine subscriptions to ‘Dead Reader’s Digest'."

I had wanted to know, if you still wanted me… to stay away? I didn’t mean to do what I did to you. I really, really didn’t, but I was worried about you. Can you forgive me? John? You’re wearing my ring again. I’m hoping that’s… a good sign.  I’d hate… to think that you’d want a divorce after only being married for such a short time.

“Please stay for as long as you want. I shouldn’t have gotten that … wild with you. It’s been… rough for me.” God, how inane that had sounded.  Rough.  “I’m really trying now, I am, Matthew. I’m going to fight. You’ll be proud of me. Believe me?”

I know you have been fighting, and I haven’t made it any easier. I’m already proud of you, damn it. What gave you the idea that I wasn’t, John. Forgive me?  He had hesitantly kissed me on my cheek, as though he had been expecting me to push him away.

“Yes.  Of course, I will forgive you anything, Matthew.”

Even for dying, and leaving you alone? His hand had begun stroking my hair gently as though he had wanted to console me. My desire to be strong had quickly fled to parts unknown, and I had willingly accepted whatever crumbs of comfort he would give me.

“Yes. Matthew, even for dying and leaving me alone.” For a moment, I hadn't recognized my voice as it had sounded dead and hopeless.

Then Matthew had kissed me on my mouth, and soon words were forgotten.

That had been almost a month ago, and we had finally arrived on Mars a few short days ago.  It had been a busy few days, and Matthew had disappeared midway through it, as I had been discussing his funeral arrangements. It made him uncomfortable, he had said, to see how badly his friends were taking his death, so he had kissed me gently, and then left for wherever.

In those days, I had spoken to Sarah, had convinced her of my sanity, and now, in a few short minutes, my cracked idea… could be reality. It had been easier to do with Matthew missing in action, as I didn’t have to explain anything to him. I had just told him during one of his re-appearances that I was going to speak with Sarah about something and that he had better not be around for it.  He had questioned that, so I had lied, telling him that his body was in the room and I wasn’t sure what would happen with his soul and dead body in such close proximity.

[Hello.  I’ve missed you.] I sent that to him, softly, not wanting to sound too… lonely.  I had some pride, after all.

John. You need to eat. It might help with your headache. I’m not causing it, am I? With bouncing in and out of your mind?

My dead lover’s mental voice was worried, and I could just imagine him looking at me intently, trying to cajole me into eating something.  Normally, I wouldn’t be able to ignore that remembered look in his hazel eyes, but today, I had something planned, and I couldn’t eat. Later, maybe I’d be able to choke something down, but not now.

[No, Matthew. I’m not hungry. The headache’s not your fault; I’m just really over-tired right now. I have to talk with Sarah first, and then make the burial arrangements. You’d like it Matt, they’re having a full military burial for you.  My XO Katerina Sashi asked if she could provide the honor guard for you, so I told her yes. I hope you don’t mind.]  Matt’s final command should be the ones carrying his body to eternal rest, but my Executive Officer had appeared horrified and well… distressed, that I had even thinking of asking them.  Then my doctor Sinya had gotten wild and began shouting curses at me that I still hadn’t been able to translate, but I think I had enough of an understanding of her native tongue to know that she was agreeing with Sashi.

I'm glad I met them while I was still living, else I'd be worried that they're your senior officers. Your senior officers are a slightly eccentric bunch aren't they? Especially those two. You never told Katerina that I nicknamed her Kit-Kat, did you? Her claws are looking mighty long right now.

[No... I hadn't...You don't mind that Katerina's insisting that my crew provide the escort?]

Not at all. I’d be honored. I told you that I like Kit-Kat, she’s deranged, but in a good way. She gambles and she cheats. She’s almost a kindred spirit. Your doctor, on the other hand, is rather feisty, isn’t she? Does she often scream obscenities in several different languages? I think she was commenting on your parentage or lack of it during part of her tirade.

[She does it all the time at me. But… seriously, you don’t mind… that you’re going to be buried as Gideon-Matheson, do you? I’ll… change it… if you like. Really, I will.] Rubbing my wedding ring on my hand, I hoped my silent partner wouldn’t object.  For now, his class ring was all I had of him, physically.

I’m dead, John, it doesn’t matter if they talk about me.  If you want the universe to know, then I agree proudly.  Look, I wanted to check in on you again, and now I'd better go again. You want to talk to Sarah, and well, since you told me that my body’s in the same room that she is, I don’t think that I should be around it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, as I’m not sure why I’m still here? Do you know?

[I think I was holding onto part of your soul when you died.]

I think you’re right. Maybe, you should let it go, John. This isn’t healthy, talking to the Dead like this. You aren’t talking to the others that much; instead, you’re just speaking with me. It’s not good, John. Don’t internalize this. Live, John. LIVE, for my sake, if not your own.  John… I’m worried that this depression of yours is… a little too severe. It’s not natural, John, and our friends would be more than willing to help you through this. Just… ask them.

[I can’t let you go.  If I let you go, and then I won’t be able to talk to you anymore. Matt?  Tonight, could you… hold me? I’ll need it to get through tomorrow.]

Yes. Of course, I will. You don’t need to ask, John. I’ll be here for you, as long as I can. I love you, John. Don’t forget that, please.

[Thank you. I love you, too.]

I know.

Then he was gone, and I felt my grief anew.  I had a desperate plan that I had hidden from him, for if it succeeded, when Matthew did leave, I’d still have part of him still in my life.

“Sarah?”  I was trying to be more in control of myself than I actually was. She’d never agree to this plan of mine if she thought I was demented, deranged or hanging onto my sanity by my fingernails.  I was in her office, and I was radiating calm, cool serenity.  Look how well, John Matheson-Gideon appears to be doing, calmly discussing what he wanted to do.  One wouldn’t think that he regularly had conversations with his dead mate.  One would be horrified to find out that his dead lover had just finished rather aggressively seducing him not even an hour ago and that he was feeling slightly sore in a delicate spot.


That’s why I hadn’t mentioned the fact that part of Matthew was still in my mind.  What I should have done was immediately let his spirit go, but instead, I had refused and had clung onto it. I didn’t want it to get lost forever in the void, so I had nurtured it and strengthened that tiny bit of Matthew’s soul as best as I could.

“Have you thought about what I asked?”  I asked her soberly.

I was impressed. My voice sounded calm, rational, sedate, sober, lucid and sane, and Sarah gave me a long, penetrating look.  Feigning a lucidity that I simply didn’t have, I think my façade was strong enough to even withstand Sarah’s searching glance.  What I was asking her to do, was what any other spouse might have done in my position.  She was a friend, and a doctor, and I wanted her to help me.

I radiated sincerity at her, promoting the thought that I had considered this idea very carefully.  I knew what to expect and I was certainly mentally and emotionally competent to make this decision about the use of my dead spouse’s body.   When I had announced to my former crew members of the Excalibur that Matthew and I had been married, you could have heard a pin drop in the room.  Matt had thought it was hysterically funny, as even GALEN didn’t have anything witty to say.  He had laughed so hard that I had been tempted to laugh myself, but that wouldn’t have gone over well.

I had left the room, and then I had heard someone asking the others, “What the hell do we do now? Do we send wedding presents?” I hadn’t heard what the group had decided what proper etiquette would be for a honeymoon that had ended up in a funeral.  Instead, I had walked quickly back to my suite, and I had started to laugh uncontrollably and hysterically in the safety of my bed. What was the code of behavior for something like this? I’d like to know, please.

Time to stop flashing back, John. Sarah’s looking like she’s made a decision. Look calm, cool and collected.

“Sarah.” I prompted. “Matthew would have wanted this. I know. Please let me know you’re going to help me with this. He had told me that he regretted not experiencing this so I want to do this for both of us.”

“I am.”   Sarah sighed. “Are you sure? Honestly? I wish you hadn’t turned down my offer, I’d do it willingly.”

“I know, my dearest Sarah, but you have a family, and while Max is rather understanding of your sexual foibles, I’m sure even he’d be a little put out that you were carrying another man’s child.” Gently, I smiled at Sarah to take the sting from my words, as it had been a generous, unselfish offer that I just couldn’t have accepted.

“Two men. This child, if we succeed, will be both yours and Matt’s. I would have just been the incubator.  Now, get undressed, as I’ve got to run some tests. The splicing went fine, but I need to check on your endocrine system. But I can assure you, whatever happened to Matt wasn’t genetic, and it shouldn’t affect his progeny.”

“Thank you.” I whispered. I closed my eyes, and tried to meditate myself. It was a trick I had learned back in my days in the Corps, the ability to self-tranquilize oneself. I didn’t want any negative auras affecting what was going on.  I was in a field, bright, grassy and the sky was blue. Matthew was next to me, and we were lazily discussing something or other.  Smelling his cologne, feeling his warmth next to me, I suddenly realized that I had to remove Matt from my mental picture as I was tearing up.  I was lying in a field, with our daughter next to me, and I was telling her about her other father, Matthew. Much better, John. Concentrate on that thought.

I felt Matt suddenly in my mind. He had decided to check in again with me, as Matthew was afraid to be too far away from me.  Matt had described being separate from me as being in a never-ending field at midnight, with the lone light from the billions of stars, and assorted moons that hung in the sky.  It was peaceful, but frightening to him due to its bleakness. That’s why I was focusing as much as I could on caring for that piece of his soul that was in my mind.  A tiny piece of Matthew’s soul, lost and alone in the bleakness… I had to protect it. That’s why I let Matthew stay, even though I shouldn’t be doing that.

I wasn’t crazy.



I thought that to myself on that ‘private band’ that Matthew couldn’t hear.  Somehow I had been given part of his psyche, and I wasn’t going to let it go. EVER. For once it was gone, there would be nothing left besides this soul-sapping mental fog that I had been living in... unless this worked. Please?

Hey! You were wrong; I’m not here right now! If I didn’t know better, I think you just lied to me so you could talk to Sarah in private. John, I’d think by now we wouldn’t have any secrets… We are married, after all!  So, what are you doing? Or would I be more correct in saying what are WE doing right now?

[Don’t talk to me right now; if I forget and speak to you vocally, then Sarah will think I’m crazy.]

Damn it. Thought it again.  Stop it, John. STOP IT. You’re NOT going crazy. You’re not.

Sarah walked over to me, and she smiled.  “I’ll have to inject some drugs into your system. If this succeeds, then your body will adjust to what’s going on, and create what hormones are needed. If it doesn’t, your body will break the chemicals down. Now, I’m doing this under local anesthesia, and tomorrow we should be able to tell if it’s a success.”

“Can you tell me before the funeral?” I asked her.

“I’ll bring a scanner, and I’ll be able to know then.  Now, I’m going to ask you again, are you SURE about this?”

“Yes, Sarah, I am more than certain about this. Don’t worry; men have been able to do this due to the wonders of modern medicine for almost a hundred years. I want this, and he wanted it too, I know.”

“Ok.” My compassionate, lovely Sarah gave me a reassuring smile. “You won’t feel anything.”


I ignored him, and he grew annoyed with me, pestering me repeatedly with that question like a two-year-old who wanted answers.  That comparison suddenly brought a ghost of a smile to my lips.  [I’m busy right now. Can’t talk!] I sent to him while I lay on Sarah’s exam table. Sarah smoothed an anesthesia jelly on my abdomen, and I didn’t feel anything when she performed the procedure.  It was over in about an hour, and I could sense Matthew’s concern. I hadn’t mentioned the fact that I needed this procedure done, and he was worried about me.  Matt had kept asking me if everything was OK with me, but I hadn’t answered him.

“There. You can get dressed now. If everything went right, you and Matthew should be parents… in about nine months.”

I got off the exam table, and I quickly got dressed.  Steeling myself, I knew that I’d probably have a very upset ghost in my head screaming at me momentarily.

He didn’t disappoint me, as he began sputtering before I had counted to five.


If Matt wasn’t dead, I think the shock would have killed him.


Sarah suddenly began to sniffle, and I quickly hugged her to comfort her.  Matthew was still babbling in my mind, but the two of us who were still living were weeping too hard for me to try to answer the questions of the dead.

Matthew was a bit put out with me, I could tell by the fact that he wouldn’t answer me when I mentally called out to him. I went to my bedroom in the Chambers-Eilerson household, and I changed for bed quickly, hoping that he’d return. Matt had promised that he’d make love to me tonight, and I was hoping that I hadn’t angered him sufficiently that he’d break his promise.

Pathetic, that’s what I was, willing to close my eyes, and let a ghost seduce me. I couldn’t even touch him; instead, all I could feel was Matthew’s mental touch on my mind, which caused my body to react physically.  Pitiful. Having sex with a spook, it was no better than masturbating with one of those virtual realities characters.  But with VR, I could have at least seen “him” and “felt” him.

But it was all I had of him, and I would take it.  Hiding under my blankets, hoping that Matt wasn’t too mad with me, I closed my eyes, and I saw him in my mind.  Please don’t scream at me, Matthew. I’m feeling a little fragile right now, must be due to all those hormones Sarah pumped me full of today.

Yeah. That’s the reason, John. Believe that and I’ve got a planet to sell you.

Oh… thank God, he wasn’t mad at me.

Instead Matthew was pacing the room, shaking his head in disbelief at what I had just done. Unlike the last time I saw him alive, Matt looked healthy, and I thought he was about as old as when we were both on the Excalibur.  He was wearing his leather command jacket, and … he was wearing his sunglasses.  Matt always wore his sunglasses when he wore his leather command jacket as he thought it made him look cool. Actually, he didn’t, but I had always teased him about how he usually wore the two of them together when he used his flyer for that reason.  Probably he had gone flying in the hereafter, to clear his head and to vent his anger there, instead of at me.  My Matt sat on the bed next to me, and his hand gently touched the small Band-Aid on my belly.

Don’t you think you should have mentioned this to me?

“Yes.”  I admitted that softly.  I had always wanted children, but as I had grown older I knew the odds of ever having them grew less and less.  Never had I found the right person, until it was far too late, and he had to be MALE.

You’re carrying OUR child?

“Hopefully.  I didn’t want a stranger to carry it to term. I could have found someone, I’m sure, but I wanted to keep this private. Sarah was willing, and probably Dureena would have offered too, if she knew, but I want it this way. Wouldn’t feel so alone, as I’d have this.” I was glad my eyes were closed, as I’d hate to see the contempt in Matt’s eyes over what a weakling I was. Losing Matthew had devastated me, even though mentally, I had known we would have only a few brief moments before he died. Hoping to make the most of his last days, I had thrown caution to the wind, pouring my heart and soul into our relationship, wanting only for Matthew's final days to be filled with happiness.

I had known that I would be broken hearted when he died, but I hadn’t been expecting this overwhelming depression.  There were days where it took everything I had just to get out of bed, and I was sleep walking through my life, making the motions of trying to survive when I wanted nothing more than to let the world go on without me.

If this succeeded, I hoped that I would want to live again. Please?

His hand gently touched the tears on my face, and I was ashamed again. I was crying once more as I had seemed to be doing constantly since Matt had died.

You know I can’t leave now. Is that why you did this?

Thankfully, his mind voice was free of reproach.

No, he wouldn’t leave now, but I had thought about this after he died.  Carefully, I had frozen his body so it would be possible to salvage DNA from his cells.  Sarah had originally been stunned by what I had asked of her, and then she had slowly come around after I had convinced her that I was SANE and understood fully what I was requesting.   Relentlessly, I had assured her of my sanity, because if I could convince Sarah that I was sane, perhaps that little voice that kept questioning me would finally shut up.  This idea had been a brief flash of fancy, until his specter had shown up. Haunting me, loving me and talking to me, it had made me long for something of him physically to hold onto.

In life, Matthew would haven’t turned his back on me, but now, in death, I had no illusion over how long his spirit would be with me.  One day, even his voice would be gone, leaving me with only my fading memories of a few happy moments.  Years after their deaths, I could barely remember what my father had sounded like, or what my mother looked like, and I had refused to accept the fact that in a while, Matthew would  fade from my imperfect memory also. Matt and I had a conversation about that subject so many years ago… and I had assured him that it was normal, the inability to remember the faces of your deceased loved ones.

‘Maybe it's because we can't decide which face to remember. The face of our father when we were children, the face of our father the first time we left home, the face of our father the last time we saw him. They all blur together…’

His face was blurring in my mind now, and sometimes I woke up, terrified because I couldn’t remember what he looked like. So many memories of Matthew swirling in my mind, images of when we had first met, his look of despair in his eyes after I had seduced him and how he had feared that it was due to pity. Those images combining with those of Matt striding throughout the Excalibur, and a pain-wracked Matthew, dying in my arms while I wept, were blurry and mixing together, and it was becoming harder and harder to remember what his face had looked like.

I wasn’t expecting his face to fade from my mind so quickly. It had been such a short time, why couldn’t I bring his face to my mind and say with absolutely certainty, that THIS was Matthew? Dark hair, hazel eyes…

Maybe I should have let his soul free; as it was a frantic, desperate thing I was doing, holding onto his soul so tightly.  Perhaps, I was injuring Matthew by what I was doing? Maybe… I was really hurting him instead.

No.  This wasn’t crazy… HURTFUL, I mean.

Matthew had asked me to allow him to ‘anchor’ to my mind. He had been fearful of some sort of spiritual current, and he had been afraid that he would be separated from me causing his soul to be lost forever.  I was doing what Matthew wanted; even though I knew what I was doing was futile.  In a short time, Matthew would fade, and I would be alone.


I couldn’t live like that, even though what I was currently doing shouldn’t be confused with anything that resembled living. I existed, my heart numb, and my soul broken.

If this succeeded, I would have part of Matt in my life, and I needed that to stay sane.

Alive, ALIVE. ALIVE, damn it, John. Stop saying that C word.  Think … positive!

Maybe… a little girl? With Matthew’s eyes?  I’d really like that. I’d be able to look at her, and see her resemblance to Matthew, easily.

I had touched Matthew at the moment he had died, and I now accepted that part of my soul had been lost with him. Walking on a tightrope that was above a pit of insanity, I was balancing for all I was worth, and I needed a reason to fight.

It wasn’t the only reason why I wanted Matt’s child to raise.  I had always wanted children, and there had only been one person I had ever loved enough to want to share that experience with.  Now, there was no way I’d ever pass an adoption board screening review, not the way I was currently, so I decided what I needed to do was to carry the child myself.

Maybe… I shouldn’t be doing this… if I am…. my mental instability would... could... affect our child....


“I had decided to do this before you showed up, but now, I hope you’ll stay around.” Speaking that softly, I cursed myself for how inane it sounded. Like Matthew had a decision in how long he would be next to me.

What about EF?

“I told them I was retiring in three months. I had already put the paperwork in a while back.”

Matthew was quiet for a bit, and suddenly I felt his hand touch my lips. [So, is there anything we can do tonight that might increase the odds of this being successful?]

“No. Either it implants, or it doesn’t.”

I wonder if it’s true.

“About what?”

Pregnancy makes some people insatiable.  I felt his hand slide down to my neck, and I suddenly realized Matthew was smiling. John… next time… ASK. I know I’m dead; but still, there are a few proprieties to becoming a parent.

“Next time?” I asked.

He began kissing me, and I never got that question answered.

“Are you sure?” I asked Sarah quietly.

“I am. We can test again tomorrow, but if it didn’t happen by now, the odds… aren’t good.”

“Do me a favor. Don’t mention that I tried this to anyone. They’ll think I’m… deranged, so keep it quiet. I know you four have been talking about me, and how you’re concerned that I’m not handling this well, but adding this little fuel to the fire would….” I couldn’t finish what I was saying, as I trying to keep my façade up in front of Sarah and her kindness might cause it to crack. It hadn’t worked. Damn. Oh damn it.  No little girl to tell stories to about how wonderful Matthew had been.

John. I’m so sorry, I am. I was so looking forward to it.

I closed my eyes, trying not to let Matthew’s compassion affect me. He sounded so wistful for a moment that I realized that sometime last night; Matt had decided that he really liked the idea. The failure shouldn’t hurt me like it did, as I had intellectually accepted it as inevitable last night. I realized that it would fail because my soul and heart were shattered and barren, so why should I hope that my body would be any different?

“It’s not a bad thing, what you wanted.  I still have enough of Matt’s DNA in the deep freezer so we can try five more times.”

“No.” I whispered. “I need to get back to my ship. It was a foolish idea anyway.”

“Let me talk to Max.”  Sarah was offering me some comfort.  “I’d like to do it for the both of you, and I know Max would agree.”

“Not now.  Maybe, in a couple of months. I need to get my head screwed on straight again.”  Never, I promised silently, would I let myself try this again. All my life, those few things that I had loved had been ripped from me, and I knew that I couldn’t bear another loss. First it had been my family, when the corps had pulled me from them when I was a mere child, and now… my Matthew had been taken from me.

“I am sorry, John.” She kissed me gently on my cheek, and she whispered. “Think about it. I’d love to do it for the both of you.”

“I know.”

Sarah walked out, leaving me in my room.   I bowed my head in grief for a moment, and I wasn’t surprised by the disappointment I felt. When I was with someone else, it was easy for me to smother my pain under a façade, but alone, I never had the energy to keep up the charade.  God, I wanted it to succeed so badly… for part of Matthew to still be alive and in my life.


It was almost time for Matthew’s funeral, and I needed to get dressed.  There was no time for me to be maudlin over what might have been, and what could have occurred.  I felt Matt enter my mind again, as I had felt that he had left me during part of the conversation with Sarah.  No doubt he was trying to spare me his dashed hopes, so he had decided to grieve in private.

[Stay with me during this?] I asked him.  Closing my eyes for a moment, I thought I could feel him hugging me tightly.

Absolutely. I’ll be here, in your mind.

[Then I’ll let you go.  I just need you in my mind for a little bit longer, and then I’ll let your spirit go.]  Then I would have nothing left of him and my life would be empty… again.  All these years, I had been alone, and I had that thought that I never minded, but our few brief weeks together had ignited a strong desire in me to refuse to return willingly to my prison of solitary confinement.

DON’T TALK LIKE THAT! Matt was furious with my all-encompassing grief that seemed to weigh my soul down more and more each day.  John, if I had thought that my death would affect you like this, I never… NEVER… would have seduced you.

“I seduced you.” My voice was loud in the quiet room, and I suddenly looked about to make sure that no one heard John Matheson talking to himself.  Else they’d put me in restraints… I began changing my outfit, as it was time to put on my dress uniform. I carefully began putting on Gideon’s old captain’s bars from the Excalibur. They were worn, but he had given them to me when I had gotten promoted to my ship so I would wear them now. “I seem to remember that rather clearly, that I was the one that made love to you. You thought it was pity, I seem to recollect, with you refusing to believe that I actually loved you.”

Led you by the nose for years, teasing and taunting you mercilessly until you finally HAD to end up in my bed.  He was trying to cheer me up, I could tell.  Admit it. I drew you into my web with a few softly spoken words and a few tawdry thoughts until you got up the nerve to seduce me.  I was getting worried there; I thought I might actually have to lead you astray. Instead, you willingly came right into my parlor, said the spider to the rather tasty fly.

“Yes, Matthew. You are… correct.”  One thing I had learned from this, was that arguing with the dead was futile.

Day of Matthew Gideon-Matheson’s funeral.
Location: Matt’s not really sure, but he’ll get back to you as soon as he figures it out.

I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I remember being in a field, walking toward something that I craved, and John Matheson-Gideon had been walking next to me.  For some reason, the fact that John was there was WRONG. I could smell the wrongness of John being next to me easily as it wasn’t his time yet, but that he didn’t want to leave me alone. So, I sucker punched him, HARD, and then he was gone from my vision.  Things went black quickly after that, and for a moment, I had felt peace. Then I had felt a pulling sensation, as though my soul was being pulled in two different directions. The agony increased, until I had blacked out.

I have no idea  for how long I wasn’t aware of what was going on.  I had woken up in an odd field, as it was quiet.  It was also nighttime and the only light was from the multitudes of stars and the variety of moons in the sky. It was cloudless, and I could see the heavens.

It was wonderful, and peaceful, but I could hear someone sobbing and the sound was of someone who was overwhelmed with grief.  I couldn’t ignore it, as I felt myself being pulled toward it.  I began searching for whoever it was, slowly, then faster. Soon I was running across the field, trying to locate that person.  I ran for what seemed like light-years, with only the sound of crying breaking the silence.  I couldn’t even hear the sound of my breathing, in the eerie quietness of the alien landscape.

The sound grew and grew, and I began to panic.  Whoever it was, was drowning in sorrow, and I could feel his inner pain clearly.  Why I was so sure it was a male, I’ll never know, but I continued to search, until I began to scream in frustration. Couldn’t anyone hear his pain besides ME? Didn’t anyone care?  If it was obvious to me, and I was dead, why the hell couldn’t the living identify it for what it was?


The voice had startled me, and I had stopped running.  The voice had come from everywhere, and nowhere, and I had foolishly wondered if it was the Supreme Being.

[No.  Not even an intermediary. FOCUS on the sound. Let it fill your soul.]

I had focused on the sound, concentrating on it, and letting the sound of that heartbreak fill my soul.  I don’t know how long I had stood there, until suddenly I had felt dizzy.  Landing on my face, I had wondered what the hell was going on.

When I had woken up again, I had been in John’s mind, and I had been able to feel his grief.  We had been still in Max’s shuttle, and I had realized that John was on the way home. It had been a few days since I had died, and John had been lying in bed, weeping. He had been wearing one of my shirts, and the sound of his grief had broken my heart.

No, John. Don’t cry. It’s better now, no pain. No Box.

John?  I had called to him softly, wondering if he would be able to hear me.

“Matt?”  His voice had been rough. “Oh God. I’m fucking losing my mind. You’re dead, Matt. I know that, so why the hell do I think you’re here with me?”

NO! You’re NOT crazy! I’m HERE.

It had taken me sometime to convince him that I was actually in his mind.  His pain had threatened to overwhelm me when John had finally accepted the fact that I was there and he had graciously allowed me to stay in his mind.  I had sensed that John had been inconsolable after my death, prone to periods of dark depression, and mentally I had gently kissed his tears away.

One thing had led to another, and I’m not sure how it had happened, but we had ended up making love that night.  Least, I had made love with him mentally, while he had laid “underneath” me, and his body had responded eagerly to my mental caresses and thoughts.   Remembering how my widower had teased me when we made love, I had returned the favor, deliberately slowing the pace of my mental seduction down, until a mute John had been trembling from his desire and his need.  His eyes had remained closed while I had seduced him, with his hands had clenched the bed sheets as though they were his lifelines.  My God, the way John had sorrowfully whispered my name when he had climaxed made me realize how badly John Matheson-Gideon was damaged by my death.

I hadn’t meant to hurt you, John. Believe me, please. I would have rather died alone than put you through this.  Please, believe that of me.

Just like before, except now I get to be in charge. I had sent that to him, trying to be whimsical in a desperate attempt to get John to smile slightly.

I shouldn’t have stayed after that, instead I should have consoled him and then quickly returned to wherever I should have been. But I had felt drawn to John, as I had been and I still was deeply concerned about him. He was grieving uncontrollably, and that scared me. My lonely Telepath was in a state of depression so deep that I was afraid that he might do something drastic.  John wouldn’t suicide, but I could see John wasting away due to his grief and I had vowed that I’d make sure that somehow John Matheson-Gideon would finally allow himself to live again.

So I ordered him about, yelling that he was letting his beard grow.  Shave it. I don’t like it. I told him fiercely, so John shuffled off to shave his beard.  This place is a pigsty! Work on it! Clean it up! Get the tea stain out of the carpet.  Max is never EVER going to let you borrow his shuttle again if you don’t clean it up. I ordered him about like a drill sergeant while John followed through on my orders like an automaton, unthinking and uncaring.

He had been sleeping in the sheets that we had last made physical love on, because he could still smell me on them, and he hadn’t want to wash them.

Rip them and use them for polishing the hull. They’ll never get clean. My God, man! We must have fucked like rabid bunnies.

Bit by bit, I had forced him to care. But he had refused to wash my shirt or my sweater that I had worn on the last day I lived.  Instead, John had grown stubborn when I had told him to wash them also.

“I can smell you on them.  If I wash them, I won’t be able to close my eyes, and see you in my mind. I can’t… and I won’t. It’s all I have left of you.”

The ship was ship-shape in a few days, except for those two pieces of clothing that John refused to give up, and I found myself wondering… what the hell am I suppose to do now? So I talked with John continuously, trying to bring him out of his emotional shock.  He’d have periods where he just wouldn’t talk, and instead he’d stare blankly into space.  John had been there, when I died, and I had begun to fear that my death experience had affected him mentally especially after one day when I had heard him wish that he’d die soon.  That frightened me, as I never would have thought John would suicide.

I had screamed at him, cursing at him, trying to goad him into fighting, and he had completely broken down in tears. I had continued yelling at him, frightened by his emotional collapse, when suddenly John had mentally screamed at me to stop it.  He had then sent me such a roller coaster of wild emotions that I had felt how truly frightened he was of the dark depression he was trapped in.  I had been stunned when he had wished that I’d leave him forever as my exasperation with his grief  had been wounding him farther.  "I think I’m going crazy", he had kept shrieking at me, mentally, and I had suddenly realized that John was close to truly believing that he was insane.

My attempts to help him had failed, as he had believed that I was a sign of his insanity. Feeling John’s level of despair had scared me, as I had never thought John would ever reach that point of hopelessness.  John, you’re too young to want to die.

I had tried to calm him down by apologizing to him, but John wouldn’t listen to me.  My lack of compassion had frayed his shattered nerves and he had wanted me to leave him alone. He had cursed at me, and he had thrown his wedding ring away from him so I had fled.  I had spent the next few days in a library, of all things, hoping that after a few days alone he might change his mind.  I had decided that I really needed to think about what I could do to help John, and then I had landed in a library. Not the Twilight land, but instead… a library, complete with Ionic columns, and statues of a lot of dead people.  It was extensive, and I never saw anyone else there, but I could feel… others present. I had spent the next few days wandering through the empty rows upon rows of books. It was a weird place, as most of the titles had to do with Death.  The rest had to deal with dying.

“Death and Telepaths” was the section I was looking for, and I had been searching for unsuccessfully for days, as there was no card catalog until I had grown frustrated. Then, I had turned to find that the next room had rows upon rows of books on that particular subject, and I had grabbed a few books to read at a table that had suddenly appeared from nowhere.  Sinking into a comfortable chair that had also just shown up, I  had  realized that being dead; really scared the hell out of me. It made no sense! And some of the copyrights were for years long into the future.  I was reading books that hadn’t been written yet?

I got the hang of doing research in the library of the dead, rather quickly. Carefully, open the book to whatever page felt right, and there would be the information I was looking for. I’d go to the shelves, think of what I was looking for, and I’d sense which books I should choose.  I had read voraciously, hoping to find something that could help John out.  After I had read several hundred books, I had come to the understanding that John was in dire straits, and that I really had to help him.

When I lived, I had heard the rumors how when one ‘Path died, the spouse wasn’t allow anywhere near the deathbed, for fear of what would happen when the spouse shared the death experience.  John had stayed with me while I died, until I had forced him back to the land of the living, but… had I been too late?

I had been.

Oh my GOD! JOHN! I’m so sorry, I had forgotten completely about that possibility until I had read about it in the library of dissolution. Apparently, our souls had fused, somehow, so when I had died, I had taken part of his soul with me, while part of mine had gone with him.

That was from a book several centuries in our future, so I had figured that I better keep my source of information quiet and not share the particulars with John.  The problem was that his soul, having been damaged by being forcibly ripped apart, might not heal, which could lead to psychosis and neurosis unless the soul could regenerate.  Had I damaged my lonely ‘Path?  Had his soul been corrupted and tainted by my death experience that now John was permanently damaged?  Healing the spirit involved making the wounded soul want to live again and John didn’t want to do that.

I had tried to be sneaky, and had thought about finding any possible biographies on Matthew Gideon or John Matheson. It had been amazing, there had been dozens on me, but there had only a few on John.  I hadn't liked what I had saw because the titles had been fluid in front of me, changing while I had glanced at them.  One moment, the book had been commenting on the life of John Matheson-Gideon, then the book had changed into Volume I, “Examining the Tragedy of John Matheson-Gideon, 1st Telepath who was an EF Captain.”

Tragedy? I hadn't liked the way that book sounded, so I had opened it… to find… BLANK PAGES.  I had wanted to scream in frustration. Every damn one of the books on John had ended in mid-sentence, right after he had retired from EF.

Apparently, John’s future was still in flux, which meant that I really had to figure out what to do. One wrong decision and the books would permanently be on the Tragedy of John.

Returning to him, tail between my legs, I had apologized again for my brutality and I had hoped that he’d let me stay. Fortunately, he had, but I had vowed to never push my depressed ‘path that far again.  I had consoled him when he wept, and I had made love to him frequently as it was the only time I had ever felt any emotions from him that weren’t dark and stained with loss and grief.   That was probably a huge mistake, but I had found it impossible to turn John down when he had asked me to love him.  He’d close his eyes, and for a moment, I could feel that John was less lost in his bereavement.

I had stayed with him on the entire trip back, occasionally leaving his mind to return to the “Twilight land” to allow me to grieve for what I had unintentionally inflicted on him. Calling out to the uncaring stars and moons, begging for advice on what the hell I was supposed to be doing to salvage John Matheson’s shattered psyche, I never heard from that mysterious godlike voice again.  Nor could I find that damn library again to research more information.

Thanks a lot! I could really use some help here.

Returning to John after my brief sojourns, I had found him holding onto a thought tightly, cherishing it, and deriving an emotional strength and an internal balance from it that he had been missing until now.  Quietly, I had encouraged it, not realizing what he wanted, but I had been grateful that John was now functioning once again.  All his hopes were focused on it, and I had kept gently motivating him to obtain that goal. I didn’t care what it was, just so long as it kept my widower a sane, LIVING, functioning human being.

Live, John, LIVE, damn you.

I had never suspected what he wanted and I had cursed myself for not even thinking of the possibility of what he wanted.  Foolishly, I had only heightened his desire to have something of me physically, as my constant mental presence appeared to have augmented his feeling of unbearable loss.

He wanted a child.

John Matheson wanted not, just any child, but my... OUR… child.  I had been thrown for a complete loop when I finally realized what he and Sarah were brewing between the two of them.   Sarah had offered her services for this, but John had turned her down, as he had desperately wanted to be there during the entire gestational period.  Max wouldn’t have minded, I’m sure, and Max probably would have been more than willing to let John lie in bed next to Sarah while her belly swelled with our child, but John wanted more.  John didn’t want a few moments of resting his hand on Sarah’s burgeoning belly; he needed MORE for that was what his sanity was resting on. Having had his fill of death, after experiencing mine first hand, John Matheson was determined to experience LIFE once again.

It was a simple procedure nowadays, useful for when the female of a couple was infertile, or two men wanted a child, but never did I think John would go that route.

I had been stunned, and John had sensed that I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t that, but it had just been a feeling that perhaps, John should had mentioned it to me before he had the procedure done.  But I guess me being dead had made my consent a moot point. After all, I couldn’t sue John for doing this without my permission.

After a few hour of heavy thinking in the twilight land, zooming around on a phantasm flyer that had suddenly appeared upon my arrival, I had found myself intrigued by the possibility.  A child.  With John’s telepathic ability, John’s innocent face that hid so much and my inherent Card shark abilities, our kid would end up being an absolute terror. Possibly, even worse than Jaia Chambers-Eilerson.

Watch out Universe! Here comes trouble!

My positive thoughts on impending fatherhood had seemed to boost John’s mood, and had I teased him incessantly that night, asking him if his breasts were sore, and if he was putting on a little weight.  The first time I had done so, John had looked startled, and then he had laughed softly. I delighted in clowning around with him, teasingly asking him if I should get a pickle for him, and he laughed harder.  Then I had gently seduced him, telling him that people in his condition needed to be loved as often as possible, and John had smiled.

He had dozed off easily, while I had stayed alert for any possible signs of John slipping back into his recurrent nightmare.  The first night I had been back, he had slipped into the same nightmare of my death over and over again, and I had learned to recognize the signals that preceded the nightmare.  I had begun to wake him before the nightmare started in full force by nudging his thoughts to other thoughts.  He would wake up, and then I would seduce him.  There were some nights that we had repeated the cycle of nightmares-seductions numerous times, so I stayed on guard vigilantly.

No nightmares. Amazing. Instead John had dreamt only pleasant things; of little boys and girls that were playing starship captains and Technomages.  There were assorted other flashes of other images of happy children but he was cycling through them so fast I couldn’t comprehend them.  There had been another longer vision, just of John carrying a very young girl with pony tails, and that he had been talking to her softly about me. John had always wanted children, and I had known that from the way he had always indulged Sarah’s children. He adored them, and the Chambers-Eilerson brood loved him.

In his dreams, John had been laughing again, and I cherished the fact that my Teep was happy. It’s ok to live, John. I’m not angry with you for being alive. For a moment, when John was speaking to Sarah, before she scanned him, I could feel his depression lifting. He wanted this, so badly. For a brief moment, I saw that little girl who looked like John, with my eyes.

Then, it didn’t happen and I felt John’s heart  break when Sarah told him that it hadn’t worked. The pain he suddenly felt was as though someone had ripped that child from his arms. He hid it well, appearing to be uncaring of the fact that it had failed, but I knew better. So did Sarah, as she again offered to carry our child to term. A generous offer and one that I knew that John never would have accepted.

There was a high failure rate in this type of procedure, and Sarah again tried to console my despondent Teep.  John wouldn’t have any part of it, while he was still pretending to Sarah that it didn’t really matter to him, and I just knew that he wouldn’t try again. John had firmly shut that door behind him when he realized that it had been unsuccessful.  I zipped out really quick, just so I could yell and scream my unhappiness in the twilight world, venting my anger to the uncaring stars as I couldn’t allow John to sense my own despondency. It wasn’t right that all this was happening to John, and I still didn’t know what the hell to help him.

Obviously, I was in this in-between state, because my soul couldn’t rest until I was sure about John.  That mission accomplished, I could finally be released to the afterlife. Least that was according to a few of the books I had read. If I was here to help John learn to love and live again, then I was messing things up really badly. Instead of helping him live, I seemed to be only helping him stay fixated on me. He talked a lot to me, and didn’t say one word to the living.

I was in his mind during my funeral.  It was like my nightmares had been like, and I was startled by the resemblance.  Commander Sashi was there, reaming out her honor guards in Russian, and I knew enough Russian to know that she was threatening to castrate them with a rusty can opener if they fucked things up.  Dr. Sinya, a diminutive Asian and John’s chief medical officer, then informed the honor guard that they’d have to sew things up themselves as she wouldn’t fix them if they screwed up.

Unmistakably, John’s senior staff cared for him deeply, as I didn’t see any insignia less than Lt. in the group that was going to carry my casket from the caisson to my burial site.  They were also a group of solidly built Russian lads, easily over six feet, every single one of them.

John spoke my eulogy, quietly, until he turned to look at my gravesite. Then I felt his resolve crumble as he suddenly realized that the headstone was all he had left of me, and then he broke down into tears.  Eilerson grabbed John off the podium, and Galen finished the eulogy through his own tears.  Galen crying? Unbelievable.

Come on. Let it out, John. I was trying to console him, while Max was urging the same thing. God help me, Eilerson and I are actually agreeing on something for once! Vainly I sent that to John in the hopes that John would stop his mourning.

John slowly composed himself, and then returned to the podium.  [Matthew, I’m sorry I broke down.]   His voice sounded like he was ashamed, and I just held him tightly in my spectral arms.

It’s ok. It’s ok.  Whispering that over and over again, I tried to let John know that it was going to get better. It was going to get better, John. I promise you that it will.

[I have cried my last tear. I will never cry again, for I have nothing left to lose.]  His mental tone was dead, and its bleakness scared me. [Nothing to live for, and therefore nothing to lose.]

JOHN! Don’t SAY stuff like that.

But John wouldn’t answer me as he had shut down his soul at that moment.

We returned to the Chambers-Eilerson’s house, and John quietly sat in the corner of the room while our friends tried to convince him to eat something.  [Come on, eat!] I sent that to him loudly, and John refused to answer even me.  They piled his plate with food, tried to ply him with liquor, and did everything they could to possibly entice him except offer the women to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if John found Sarah AND Dureena in his bed later, and all John did was shake his head. No. He didn’t want anything.

“I’m sorry. I’m going to bed now.  I’ve got to return to my ship tomorrow, and I better get some sleep. Thank you for everything.” John looked at each person, and I knew that his eyes lingered on Sarah the longest.  “I’m sure somehow Matthew is aware of how much you’ve done for the both of us.”

John. You’re gonna make me start sniffling, now.

Then he left the room, while I decided to gamble.  I hadn’t done this before, and I wasn’t sure if it was even possible, but I jumped from John’s body, landing squarely in Sarah’s mind.  There was a brief moment of disorientation where Sarah’s mind rebelled, and then I quietly eased my way in.

It was interesting viewing things through Sarah’s eyes.  I could feel her grief for my death, her compassion for John and her deep affection for her cranky husband, Max.  Come on, I need to make sure you guys are going to take care of John when I’m gone, so I prompted her to say that though out loud. “What are we going to do with John?”  I managed to suppress her exclamation of surprise when she suddenly voiced that opinion.

“I don’t know.” Dureena answered.

Not good enough, I thought to myself. So I had Sarah parrot that.

“Let him mourn.” That was Max.  “He needs the chance to grieve, and if he keeps it bottled up inside, it will just fester.  Let him return to his ship and his crew, and that will hopefully get his mind off what he’s dealing with right now. God.  He and Matt were married? When did that happen? Did they tell any of you? Or did the two of them decide to acknowledge what was blatantly obvious before Matthew died?”

“I just don’t know.” Dureena admitted that softly.

Yeah, we were married in the Chapel of Elvis. Got a problem, Eilerson?  I stifled that thought quickly, when I heard Sarah about to say it. Oh shit! I really didn’t have this body-mind control thing down very well, so I decided to return to John.  Damn it, these guys weren’t going to be able to help John at all. It was up to me, again.

He was gone again.  I should get use to it, and accept it.  Matthew Gideon was most assuredly dead, and I decided it was time to let his spirit rest.  It wasn’t right what the two of us had done, tying his soul to the physical realm. He was dead, and he needed to move on to the next plane of existence, not baby-sit his depressed spouse. Slowly, I thought of him, concentrating on visualizing the psychic cords that united us, and I began separating them.  It was painful, but I wanted Matt to have peace and perhaps, one day soon, I could join him, as I had nothing left to live for.

Goodbye, my Captain, I thought. I had loved you for so long and the strands holding our souls together were a mass of thin, tough cords that had become tangled and knotted through our long association.  Then I methodically began to sever the tie between us. Go FREE, Matthew, back to the stars where you should be.  It hurt like hell, as part of my soul was being torn away with each strand I released, but Matthew deserved to rest.  It would be my final gift to him even though freeing Matt would leave me a soulless hull.

Do you think it might stop hurting so much?

He came blazing into my mind like a shooting star. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? STOP IT. WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING, I CAN FEEL THAT IT’S HURTING YOU! STOP IT!

“I’m letting you go, Matthew.”  It was only a little more pain, Matt, in the sea of never ending anguish that I was drowning in. Then there would be no more pain for me, because I wouldn’t be able to feel anything ever again. I would be dead in my heart and soul, while my body lived on.  I had long since promised Matthew that I wouldn’t suicide, but I never promised him that I would actually LIVE again.

I’m STAYING.  Matt’s voice was full of compassion for me, and I could taste a bit of fear in it.  I don’t want to leave you alone just yet.  A little bit more time, when you’re back on your feet, and then I’ll leave.

A sense of relief strongly filled my soul, and I was embarrassed by my happiness. I wasn’t going to be alone, not just yet, and Matthew was going to stay with me.  Lacking anything resembling pride, I begged Matt to have sex with me, just so I won’t be alone tonight.

I was pathetic and weak, and no doubt I disgusted Matt.  In spite of my best efforts to hide that thought from him, Matt heard me, and his anger surprised me. You’re overwhelmed with your pain right now.  It happens to all of us.  Don’t let it overwhelm you, so you lose your way.

Closing my eyes tightly, I felt his mental touch as Matt slowly began to seduce me with a gentle kiss on my shoulder.

Returning to the Valery Bykovsky was harder than I thought it was going to be.  Katerina, my Executive Officer had personally flown the shuttlecraft to pick me up, and I was surprised to find Sinya, my CMO, sitting next to her.  The two women greeted my friends warmly, and they both assured Sarah that they’d keep an eye on me.

“Would you mind not talking about me, like I’m not even in the damn room?” I growled at them, which they ignored.

John. They like you as a person. Don’t be stubborn and refuse their compassion. Matt’s voice strongly advised me.

Before I had left, Sarah had tried to scan me again, and I didn’t need her look of sorrow to know what the answer still was. Nope.  Matt’s class ring was all I would ever have of him, and I felt Matt’s anger at that comment.

You’ll have memories, John, of what we shared.  You’ll know that we were married, and that I loved you enough to still hang around, even after I died. I went far beyond the ‘til death us do part.’ Isn’t that enough? Most people would be happy with that.

Yes, I guess I should be happy with that.

The shuttle ride back was quiet, although Sinya tried to talk to me while Matthew urged me to talk to her.  Sin was a widow, as her husband had died in the explosion on the original “Bykovsky” and I knew how painful it had been for her.  But I couldn’t deal with any more understanding looks, and the knowledge that they pitied me.  Roughly, I told her that I wasn’t ready to talk, but I found Matthew putting words in my mouth, softening my tone, and telling Sinya that one day I’d talk to her, but for now, I wasn’t ready.

[Did you need to do that?]  Sending that cutting thought to Matthew, I immediately felt ashamed.  Matt was trying to help me and rationally, I knew that offending Sin was a bad thing to do. Even though she was barely five feet tall, she was capable of knocking a solid Russian lad down with a good kick to the ankle. Being so short among a land of Russian giants, and a Non-Russian to boot, had toughened her personality and made her a dangerous enemy.

YES. I did. After all, you're not the only person in the universe who's ever lost their spouse. Sinya's been through this, and she's willing to talk to you. Use her. Talk to her.  Don't keep shutting everyone out.

[You're right, Matt. Just... really tired right now. ]Closing my eyes for a bit, I suddenly realized that I was really exhausted, so I drifted off to sleep, secure in the knowledge that my Matt was still with me, for now.

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