None So Blind

by Mistress Sarah

Summary: There are none so blind as those that refuse to see. And there are some questions that should remain unasked, even among friends.
Disclaimer: These are not my characters. They are owned, copyrighted and created by far wiser people than me. I have attempted to bring them back to life for a short time, attempting to ease that gaping hole in my heart where B5/Crusade once was.
Note: John Matheson; Matthew Gideon. Series is NC-17. m/m. Angst.
Archiving: SW and the WWOMB archive
Rating: NC-17 this section.

"Captain. It has been great knowing you. Any regrets?"

"Honestly. No. Well, just one." I admitted to the young Oriental next to me.

"Which is?" John Matheson gave me a weary smile.

"I was really hoping that we would find the Cure. Also, I think dying in the middle of a cave in was not the way I was planning on going." Scowling, I looked at the ninety tons of rocks that were separating us from the real world. "Too bad Galen's not here to Technomagic it all away for us. One snap of his fingers, and we'd be free from one hundred tons of rocks." I snapped my fingers to show how easy it would have been for Galen.

John flashed me his gentle smile, and I felt better. For some odd reason, no matter how dark and dismal things were, his smile would always brighten my day. Possibly because it was so rare when the young man actually unbent enough to smile. That was John Matheson, too intense, and far too serious at times for such a young man.

"Really? How were you planning on dying? Hand to hand combat with the Drakh Imperious Leader? And after killing it, find the Cure and return home a hero?" John Matheson was at his quirky, puckish best right now, so I gave him a quick grin to let him know that I appreciated his humor. "Shall I start shredding the ticker tape for your parade? I don't really have much else to do right now." John waved a piece of paper at me, and mimed shredding it into bits for my ticker tape parade.

"Too ostentatious. Besides don't shred that list of supplies you just made."

"What? Don't you have it memorized already? I mean, one rescue kit, three chocolate bars, three canteen bottles of water, and a few other items aren't that hard to memorize." John neatly folded the paper up and put it into his pocket. "I still can't believe that the first aid kit got squashed by a thirty pound rock."

"Don't forget the KY." I added that comment sarcastically, while John laughed softly. "Trust Eilerson to remember the damn KY."

"Captain. KY is useful for when lubing up machine parts that get stuck. Are you implying that perhaps, Mr. Eilerson is using EF supplies for something other than its ordained purpose?"

He grinned at me, noting that I had tried to embarrass him by commenting on one item in particular that he hadn't mentioned in his listing of supplies. It hadn't worked as John had volleyed it right back at me.

Point to Matheson.

"Actually, I do have one regret." I sighed, and pretended to ponder a grave issue. I stuck my chin out, trying to appear serious.

"What?" He was tired, but we had been talking for the last nineteen hours straight, ever since that cave-in had occurred, blocking us from the exit. The cave in wasn't too bad, but the subsequent earth tremors had been increasing in frequency, and making the cave very unstable. Part of the cave had collapsed further from the last earth tremor, and I wasn't very comfortable with how secure our tomb was. If the Excalibur crew didn't figure out a way to get the two of us the hell out of here, pretty soon it would be Sayonara, and Good Night, Matt and John.

"I have this great first officer, who I'm about to die with. And, for all the years I've known him, he's never called me, Matthew. One would hope that at the end, he might stop calling me, Captain."

Looking elsewhere, I was pretending not to see that John had smiled briefly at my joke. YES! He smiled, so I mentally gave myself another point under the "Successful Smiles that I managed to coax from John Matheson" category.

"I'll have to think about it. It does break most of the chain of command theory that I have tried to strictly follow during my career in EF." John continued to deliberate the issue seriously for some time, and then he sighed in obvious disappointment. "'Fraid, no can do, Captain."

"John!" I was horrified, and he gave me his puckish grin. My XO was yanking my chain again, trying to get a rise out of me.

"MATTHEW!" he said, laughing at me.

"See. The ceiling didn't cave in from that." I admonished him, while pointing to the cave's ceiling to prove my point.

"No, that was before I used your first name, Matthew." The younger man dryly reminded me.

"You're in rare form today. Have I told you that?" My comment earned another rare smile, and another point.

"That might be the fifteenth time in the last four hours. But, dying does it for me. Sharpens the wit." He stretched for a moment, catlike, and then he gave me another smile.

We sat in companionable silence, each staring at the piles of rock, lost in our own thoughts. The silence spread and grew, until I found it overwhelming and crushing. I guess I'm somewhat claustrophobic. Or maybe it's because now, at the end of my tour of duty with John, I still didn't think I knew him as well as I liked to have. We were friendly, but sometimes I felt that John was hiding something from me, and I had always wondered what it was.

"So, what regrets do you have? Seriously, I'd like to know." I questioned him softly.

"They're rather personal. Actually." John looked sheepish, and I knew not to press the issue.

"Ok. I think I'm taking my comlink off. Don't want to activate it accidentally while I'm sleeping. I don't want the crew to know that you snore." Taking off my comlink, I set it down next to me. No smile, no point. Darn.

"I don't snore."

Matheson was sounding as querulous as an old lady and he then offered me the water bottle. I nodded my head in acknowledgment of his offer and with a toast, "Salud", took my rationed sip from the rapidly emptying bottle.

Two hours later.

"I'm beginning to think we're not getting out of this." That was John, who was staring at the piles of rock. Outside, I could hear the sound of heavy machinery being put into position. I hoped that the lucky people outside would be more careful than when they had first tried to get us out of this damn death trap. They had nearly managed to collapse the damn cave on us, while rushing blindly in to solve the problem of our entrapment. They hadn't thought out the possible consequences of moving a few rocks would do to the stability of the area. Goddamn idiots nearly had gotten us killed! Fortunately, Max managed to out shout everyone else, and he gotten Ensign Modesitt down on the planet to become Incident Command. Apparently Modesitt was an engineer who also like spelunking, so she knew... ROCK. Maybe Rae was the person to get us the hell out of here. I'd certainly nominate her for a medal or two or even a promotion if she succeeded.

"I know." I was keeping my answers short and sweet, hoping I could drag more of a conversation out of John Matheson. Anything was better than just sitting in the dark, listening to seconds of your life ticking away. Tick tock. Tick Tock. "So. What regrets do you have?"

"I'm still not answering them." He admonished me for pushing the issue.

"You're no fun!" I growled at him.

"I know. It specifically says in EF regulations that XOs are responsible for being killjoys."

Five hours later.

I felt a slight shaking, and I immediately sprang into action. "Earth tremor" I yelled, as I tackled John Matheson. I heard him mumbling underneath me, and I protectively covered his head with my arms, as the cave shifted above us. Rocks fell, dirt filled the air, and I began to cough softly.

"Can you warn me next time?" His voice was muffled, and I heard him laughing softly. "Matthew. Do you honestly think that would have helped me if the roof collapsed?"

"I would have died knowing that at least I tried." I answered him shortly, and then rolled off of him. Fortunately when I had landed on him, I hadn't made direct skin to skin contact with him, so I don't think I broke any Psi- EF rules there. "I think they've gotten discouraged out there." I admitted. By now, I really had a buzz from not sleeping and the adrenaline rushes. Euphoria is such an odd feeling, especially when you know lack of sleep and an overabundance of adrenaline are inducing it in your system. Nothing like trying to sleep during an earthquake to keep you awake. Anyway, I was feeling really strange, and I was trying to keep my mouth shut. Else who knows what else might come bubbling out?

"I know. I have gotten discouraged here." John admitted softly.

"So. John..." I drawled, forgetting my vow to not pry into that particular question again.

"Yes, Matthew." His voice was quiet in the darkness, and I knew he was going to absolutely hate my next question.

"Any regrets?" I asked again.

"Oh God. Not this again."

Four hours later.

I had tried to sleep, but the adrenaline was playing havoc with my system. I was pretty much wired for sound right now, and I had paced the area repeatedly, earning an amused look from John. Finally he had told me bluntly to sit down, and stop pacing as John felt like he was watching a wild animal in a cage. This caged animal was constantly pacing and always looking for any possible escape from our jail.

"John. I think I know your regrets." We had both stripped out of our jackets, and we were just sitting among the rocks, talking and bonding. I laughed slightly, and John gave me a look that said he wasn't as slaphappy as I was.

"Not this again." He sounded weary, and I laughed again.

"You regret . . . " I smiled at him. "Not getting involved with . . . Dureena!" I looked at him, waiting for a response.

"You're wrong." John gave me his brief smile again, and he refused to admit anything more.

"Sarah?" I questioned him again.

"Wrong . . . again." That was admitted softly and slowly as though the thought had never crossed his mind, and John had to really think about that possibility before answering me. He had appeared puzzled for a moment, and then he had smiled slightly. But the answer was still no.

Hmm... Who then?

"So which beauty on the Excalibur do you regret not getting involved with?" He didn't look at me, and I suddenly guessed that his unrequited love wasn't female. "Oh. It's a guy?"

"Matthew, please."

 He wanted me to avoid this subject, but since I was dying I figured I had the right to know.

"I don't mind. I'm not that parochial. " I admitted to him. "So . . . did he ever know?"

"Matthew . . . Please . . . " John was trying to warn me to stop questioning him, but I ignored him.

"Galen?" I teased. The mental image of Galen and John together made me want to laugh out loud. The Technomage with his ego, and my XO John, being involved in a torrid romance! Not enough room in a king-sized bed for the three of them.

"MATTHEW!" He was obviously horrified by the sheer thought of that person.

"DON'T TELL ME EILERSON!" Now, I was horrified. Dear God, NO. That was far worse than Galen was, as Max had a distinct taste for the exotic. Trust me, I had seen the porn crystals, and I still couldn't figure out how that one alien . . . NEVERMIND! But maybe there was a secret, hidden side to John Matheson, Telepathic Casanova of the Stars and all around Lothario. Nah . . Not my John. The silly thought that maybe John had gotten Max to call him "Master" and that John had housebroken my chief pain in the ass amused me greatly, so I laughed softly.

HEY! Maybe John had told Max to bring the KY along for a little fun. That thought made me laugh harder.

"Matthew . . . Please." He sighed again, and I could tell I was embarrassing him.


Six hours later.

I had finally dozed off and the damn planet decided to rock and roll for a bit. "That's it, I'm never going to get any sleep. Remind me to tell the Tour Guide that I want a refund for the lousy bed." John didn't smile, so I figured that he wasn't listening to me. Really, I think he was just answering me half-heartedly, so maybe it was a good time to get that little secret out of John Matheson. "So . . . "

"Yes, Matthew?" John was immediately on guard, and I tried to smile at him to reassure him.

"How long have you?" I waved my hands at him, trying to prompt him into answering my question and he shook his head in disbelief, sighing at my audacity.

"Matthew!" Crossing his arms, my XO turned away from me, and leaned against the cave's wall. Plainly, the younger man was stating, but extremely politely, that he really didn't want to talk about this relationship.

"John?" I prompted him again.

"Ok. For a while. Ok?"

"So, why didn't you two get hooked up. Didn't he know that you liked him?" I really shouldn't be asking him such personal questions, but we had been friends for many years now and well, I was curious on whom he had this secret crush on. Never would I have guessed that John Matheson was secretly pining away with an unrequited love affair!

Sighing, and obviously giving up on trying to get me to stop the twenty questions about his personal life, John turned to look at me. "No, I don't think he ever did. I'd be humiliated if he ever thought that I . . . cared for him like that. He'd probably not be that . . . thrilled."

He admitted that to me, regretfully, and for a moment, I was furious at this secret love. What wasn't there to like about John Matheson? Loyal, dependable, my rock of Gibraltar. I guess he was cute, if you looked at him that way, which I never had. But I had overhead Dureena one day, so I KNEW that the women of the Excalibur thought John was cute. They thought I was cute in a surly type of way. SURLY? But the ladies thought John was absolutely adorable.

"Look, do you want me to talk to him?" I offered. Which was silly, as we weren't apparently getting out of this fine mess we were in.

"NO!" John was horrified, and I winced.

"Sorry!" I silently mouthed that at him. John nodded, accepting my apology. "Was he involved with someone else?" I questioned, and for a moment, John looked pensive.

"Yes." Matheson spoke that slowly and softly. "He needed her. He was able to . . .be himself with her . . .that is what he truly needed. Apparently, I wasn't able to be that person for him. I really tried, Matthew, I DID. Silly me, all I ever really wanted was to be that person for him... but it simply wasn't to be."

For some reason, John looked at me intently when he said that, and all I could do was nod my head in agreement. I was sure that John had tried, and I wondered again who was so thickheaded that he couldn't see what was obviously right in front of him.

"But at least, he had her." My XO shook his head, and sighed slightly. "I just wish that it could have been me." For some reason, I got the idea that I wasn't suppose to hear that last comment.

I knew enough to let the subject drop and so I tried to get some sleep.

Four hours later.

Two earth tremors later, and a split chocolate bar between the two of us, I decided to poke some more into my XO's personal life. "Did you ever want to have sex with him?" These questions were just bubbling up from somewhere, and I just couldn't keep my mouth shut. For a moment, I wanted to blame my questions on my mental exhaustion, but I knew better. I was being a deeply concerned friend who was poking into things he should not be involved in. Obviously who ever this guy was, he wasn't good enough to be involved with my XO, as he was unbelievably obtuse. John deserved far better!

"Matthew. Please. Can we STOP this conversation?" John was embarrassed, and for a moment, I wished I could have taken my questions back.

"You must have!" I responded.

"Ok. I did. Happy now? Can we end this conversation? Please?" John then got up from where he was sitting, and he began pacing our jail, and I timed him at slight over ten minutes to slowly walk the perimeter of our grave.

"We're dying in here. We've been stuck in this damn cave in for almost two days now. They're not getting us out." I whispered that softly at John, and he sighed.

"I know."

Five hours later, I rolled over after dozing for a bit, and I found John Matheson pretending to be sleeping soundly. The two of us were sharing the only blanket we had found in the rescue kit, and he was sleeping with his back facing me. We were carefully not touching each other, but still we were close enough to radiate some body heat. But he wasn't sleeping, so I touched him gently on his shoulder, making sure that the sleeve of my leather jacket covered my hand. After all these years, I was careful to never directly touch my first officer unless he gave me permission first. That tackle I had given him during the most severe of the earth tremors had been accomplished without direct skin to skin contact. Never could I even offer him a simple handshake for a job well done, for fear of what Jones would imply in that simple gesture of friendship.

Suddenly, it hit me, why John was having such difficulty in talking to me. His shields! As a Telepath, he must be straining to block my thoughts. We were in tight quarters, and with it only being the two of us, he must be having trouble preventing himself from scanning me accidentally. What to do? Hmm...

"Roll over." I ordered him softly.

"How'd you know I wasn't sleeping?" His voice was soft, and John didn't roll over to face me. That meant that he was upset, and that John didn't want to let me know that he was. After all these years together, the two of us knew each other's quirks very well. My loyal XO, not wanting to burden me with his own doubts and fears, while I was wrestling with my own, was trying to hide his feelings from me.

"Easy." Injecting a false cheer into my voice, I tried to get John to start talking to me. Such a lonely man, my XO never talking to anyone at the very times he needed to talk the most. At those times, when he was shutting himself behind a wall of solitude, I was usually trying to force him into talking to me.

Like now.

"Easy? How so? A Captain's sixth sense?" His voice sounded better, as though John was trying to be upbeat for me.

"You weren't snoring." I admitted that dryly, waiting for him to react to that comment.

"Well, you were. I can assure you that if we taped it, and broadcast it over the Drakh home world, we'd be given the Cure within an hour or so. They'd be fighting to surrender."

"I don't snore that bad."

"Of course not, Sir." John continued to mock me quietly, in an obviously insincere voice.

We were quiet for a few minutes, and I noticed that he was shivering. Our cave was at times hot and cold, and now, it was distinctly chilly.

"Cold?" I finally offered that comment to him.


"Don't move." I moved myself next to him, deliberately making physical contact with him. I wrapped my body next to him, lying next to him spoon style and I was surprised by how cold he was. "I, Matthew Gideon, give you permission to scan me." I whispered that in his ear, and I felt John tense up after that comment. Rearranging the blanket, I tried to make sure that he was completely covered by it.

"Sir!" For a moment, I thought John was going to bolt. But bolt where? We were both going to die in this damn cave. Then why had I given him official permission to scan me? Perhaps because deep in my soul, I hoped that we wouldn't die in this damn cave. Or, maybe I was being realistic, and offering him the possibility that his last few moments would be peaceful, rather than final moments where he vainly fought to maintain his shielding.

"John. Your Captain's freezing, so I am giving you a direct order to warm him up with your body temperature before he turns into an ice cube." I was warmer, and feeling drowsy, so I felt myself floating off into slumber.

"Sir . . . I won't scan you. I swear it."

John's voice radiated sincerity, and I smiled briefly in the dark, glad that he couldn't see my amusement. John would kill himself in the process of blocking me out before he would scan me, and I didn't want that. No, not at all. I guess I am a bit overprotective of my Telepathic XO, but even cold-hearted, fire-breathing Captains can be human sometimes. Not too often, but just human enough to drive their crews crazy.

"I know you won't. But you're exhausted, John, and if something slips, don't worry."

He was asleep, curled next to me, and I was still awake, listening to the sound of Matthew's breathing relaxing into the sound of a man deeply asleep. I had been having difficulty with my shielding during this entire "incident" so I figured that Matthew must have noticed it. Trapped in a small, confined space with someone, with whom I was . . . friendly, it was difficult not to pick up . . . things. So I had focused completely on my shielding, and I was becoming exhausted with the effort of keeping him firmly out of my mind.

Gideon had grilled me earlier in our adventure, trying to find out my illusive "love of my life," and I think he obviously had no clue that I was talking about him. Stolid, sober, dependable, TELEPATHIC John Matheson was absolutely head over heels for his captain. HAD BEEN FOR YEARS! If he hadn't noticed it by now, and if none of the other crew members had recognized and commented on it, then I wasn't acting like the giddy, love-struck fool I thought I was.

All the Joneses I had dealt with in my time with him never caught a whiff of the fact that I carried a torch for him. Hell, Torch? Try a supernova. A supernova that Matthew had just chosen not to see. I didn't think Matthew was unaware of my feelings, but that he had decided just not to SEE it.

I don't know what I would have done if he knew that I loved him. Hopefully he'd never know. For some reason, I thought he'd be furious . . . or . . . maybe . . . embarrassed with my "crush", or dismiss it, thinking it an intense case of hero worship. Or else . . . he'd be uncomfortable. Not that Gideon was homophobic, but . . . just that . . . I'd hate to lose our friendship over something that simply could never be. Having no chance for what I truly wanted, I willingly took whatever crumbs I was offered, and I cherished them deeply. Friendship with the man I loved would have to be enough for me. It had been for all these years, but why at night, did I still yearn for more?

Hell! I didn't yearn, I burned for him.

When Matthew had gotten involved with the Babylon 5 commander, Capt. Elizabeth Lochley, I had been... disappointed. Disappointed, but yet still relieved, because that meant that my emotional attachment to my Captain hadn't been apparently noticed by either of them, as I was their unofficial chaperone. They appeared to be a good match; each trying to outdo one another on whatever assignment the two were working on. It had been rather amusing, when Gideon had been flustered when Lochley had mentioned his "rugged handsomeness" in front of me. Secretly, I had to laugh when Gideon realized that everyone was gossiping about him and the Captain from B5. So judging from his reaction to that bit of news, my Matthew wasn't the lady-killer that rumors had made him. Why else would he have appeared THAT embarrassed?

But I was secretly envious of her having my Matthew as her lover.

As a teenager, I had been an outcast among my telepathic peers, for two silly reasons. One was because I had always wanted to be in Earth Force. Secondly, I had deep reservations about the high percentage of arranged marriages between Teeps. My parents had been fortunate, I guess, that they had fallen in love and that their genetic structures had allowed them to marry and mate. But others that I had known hadn't been as fortunate. Two people wed together "for life" that barely tolerated one another.

I had found the whole idea of marrying a complete stranger, horrifying. Like a stallion being led to a fertile brood mare, except I would know everything that she felt and thought about me. Such vulnerability frightened me, especially when I looked at my fellow peers in the corps. They had mocked me because I had wanted to be in EF and they had taken delight in belittling that idea relentlessly. I could just imagine what they'd say when they found out that I wanted to actually love the person I was intimate with.

Radical! Subversive! Fool!

Fortunately, I was allowed to continue with my education, undisturbed by thoughts of arranged marriages. In the grand scheme of all things Telepathic, a P6 really isn't that important to the "improvement" of the breed, so I was allowed to finish my education. It had been close to the time that I would be . . . introduced to an unattached but genetically suitable female when I got mixed up with that "Telepath." No doubt my superiors had decided to trust me with her captivity as a way of trying to bring John Matheson, "outsider" back into the fold. The Corps trusted me with its most dangerous enemies, and I should have embraced the Corps for giving me that trust.

The simple act of allowing the rebel to remain drug free for a time had given her a chance for revenge on the Corps. That single moment had pretty much sealed off any chance for me to experience intimacy with another 'Path. Mental intimacy would soon reveal my darkest secret; that I had helped kill off my fellow Telepaths. She had told me and promised me that by not taking that action of drugging her, I wasn't involved in what happened later on. She meant well, I knew, and she hadn't realized that she was lying to me. I knew, but still I agreed to her plan, knowing full well what it meant.

The Corps was Mother, and Father, and I had helped kill them. I was a kin murderer. Outcast. Unclean. Pariah.

So the Telepathic "Incident" had occurred, and when the dust settled, I grabbed the golden ring that I had long thought was out of my reach. John Matheson, EF cadet was my new role. Alone and friendless, but at least, I was in EF. She had told me to live free, to follow my dreams, and so I did.

So the years had passed, and I hadn't really formed an attachment with anyone. I wasn't happy with that, but I kept myself hopeful that perhaps one day, I'd find someone that I'd want to share physical and mental intimacy. Maybe find that special someone, get married and have a few children together.

Imagine my surprise when that someone had turned out to be my first commanding officer, a man who was the only one willing to take the first EF Telepathic officer on his ship. A mundane, of all things. God above, the person I loved just had to be a mundane, male, *years* older than I was, AND my commanding officer. If God had any type of compassion, I don't think God would have had my love turn out to be....

Matthew Gideon.

Foolish and lonely, I had been grateful whenever he stopped to talk to me in the hallway, questioning me about how I was fitting in with the crew and asking me other questions. Probably, he was just making small talk with his newest crewmember, but I quickly began looking forward to these brief conversations, as Matt was the only one who was comfortable in talking with The Teep.

It had been a few months before I realized that I had a horrendously bad crush on my new Captain, and I had been horrified at that realization. So, I tried to pretend that I didn't, even though I mentally practiced having conversations with him. Not that I was trying to be witty or flirtatious, instead, I was trying to be not so Goddamn obvious. I was like a star struck teenager face to face with her matinee idol. My heart raced whenever he was nearby, but I kept trying to be cool and collected. Since I didn't spend hours socializing with my fellow crewmembers, I spent those hours pouring over any assignment I was given. Especially any assignments that Matthew casually assigned to me, I poured my heart into them, trying to make them perfect and polished.

A simple comment like "Looks good" from my Captain would have me deliriously happy for a brief time. Then I'd obsess on how I could do the next project even better.

Lord! He was easily ten years my senior and MALE. He was most assuredly . . . male, and I admired his easy confidence and the way Gideon handled himself. Cocky, arrogant, whimsical, he appeared to have everything under control. People flocked to him, guided by his charisma, and his personality. Not like the newest member of his crew, who could clear out a room in less than ten seconds flat.

Trust me, I had timed it.

Each day, I found myself hoping that he'd talk to me, as nobody else would. Mealtime was a nightmare, as everyone plainly made it clear that they didn't want the TEEP to sit at their table. So, I often went to mealtimes at odd hours, trying to assure myself of an empty table. Reading while I ate, I pretended that I was enjoying the solitude.

Telepaths are not naturally, solitary individuals as our lives are full of noise. Both mental and physical noise had permeated my life up until now to such an extent that I was now unbelievably lonely by the unending solitude. Keeping my shields up tightly, I tried not to focus on how lonely and quiet my new life was.

Outcast. Leper. A pariah masquerading as an EF officer.

One night, I had arrived at the cafeteria, and I found that all the tables were pretty much in use as everyone was eating late that night. I grabbed my meal, saw an empty table, and quickly commandeered the seat. Right while someone else was grabbing the other chair at the table, I was sitting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a class ring on my tablemate's finger, and I realized who it was. GIDEON!

Quickly, I stood up, nearly knocking my chair over in my haste.

"Sir! I'll leave so you can have the table, Sir!"

"Ensign Matheson." His voice was low, and my heart was racing. He had USED my name. Stupid! Stupid! He was older! He was MALE! AND MATTHEW GIDEON IS YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER!

"Sir?" My voice didn't crack, I was proud to admit. Instead, my voice was low, and radiating a confidence that I simply didn't feel.

"Are you inferring that I need both chairs?"

That had been a rather unexpected comment, so I had smiled, briefly, before I had thought about how I really shouldn't be smiling at HIM. Then I made sure that my smile disappeared quickly. Zip! Gone, like it never had occurred.

For some reason, I thought I saw my Captain silently mouth the word "ONE."

One? What the hell did THAT mean, I wondered?

"So, you do smile. I had my doubts there." Matthew flashed a smile at me, and he laughed softly.

Startled, I had stammered a response. "S-s-sir?" For a moment, I stared at him, and I suddenly realized that it was the first time I had ever really looked eye to eye to him. Gideon's eyes were hazel, and I realized that they were marked with a sorrow and a grief that I had never before noticed in his eyes. Was his self-assurance an act? Did Matthew Gideon have his own bitter regrets that haunted him just like mine did?

"In all your time on this ship, I've never seen you smile. Not even once, do you know that? Stop trying so damn hard, John. I admit that I'm not the most orthodox of captains but I certainly wouldn't write you up on charges if you smiled occasionally. Don't make me order you to smile, Ensign. I hear that I'm eccentric enough to do that."

"Sir?" I had whispered that again, and he smiled again, briefly.

"SIT. DOWN. That's an order, Ensign. A direct order from your commanding officer who will be rather annoyed if he has to order you to eat your meal. I expect you to make the effort to talk to me, regarding anything, including this inedible slop in front of us, as I don't think I've heard you say more than three words in all the time you've been on the ship. In fact, from now on, you and I are going to have a meeting every week to discuss how you are fitting in on the ship. As your commanding officer, I've been rather delinquent with your training as an officer. Therefore, I have to correct that oversight, so tomorrow 15:00 hours, my office."


"And I don't expect to hear that term again in this conversation. So," Matthew looked at his plate, and he gave me a conspiratory smile. He stabbed something with his fork, and then waved it in my direction. "Do you think if we had let these poor things evolve for a few more weeks that they might have developed sentience?"

I had scanned his mind one time. I had felt his mind and his thoughts, and I had been terrified that I would be kicked out of EF for the violating the rules.

We were on some god forsaken peacekeeping mission that had blown up in our faces. "Remind me, no good deed goes unpunished," Matthew had growled that at his head of security, when we found ourselves running into a firefight. We had fought hard especially when we realized that both groups had decided to join forces to take us out.

Running throughout the forests of that planet, I was point guard, while Matthew was at the head of our group. He was busy making plans on how to get his team the hell out of this no-win situation when we stumbled onto a booby mine. The last thing I realized was that the ground was exploding around us.

When I came to, I realized I was bleeding pretty hard from a head wound. Somehow I had landed in a stream after the explosion, and I remembered vaguely that I had run for the stream when I had heard the sound of an anti personnel mine being activated. That's why I was lying in the middle of the stream, and I noticed that I was significantly downstream from where I had jumped into the stream. It had been a reckless act of sheer stupidity that apparently saved my life. But now, I was soaking wet, and I was injured. Wiping the blood from my eyes, I grasped that my head was ringing loudly as though I had been stuck in the belfry when the bells had been rung for noon. Staggering to my feet, I realized that I was in a hell of a lot of trouble as the stream was spinning underneath my feet and my comlink was busted.

It was better to sit for just a moment, to get my bearings, I decided, so I pulled myself out of the stream, leaned my body against a rock, and passed out again.

Later on, I would learn that Gideon had stopped the troop right after the explosion and had done a head count. Realizing I was missing, he had ordered the group to stay where they were, and he was going back to find the missing Teep.

I woke up again, and I winced from Gideon's physical and mental presence. Loud, raw and chaotic was his thinking and I tried to raise my shielding up another notch. But I couldn't concentrate enough to make the effort. Unlike what you may have heard Telepaths do not simply hear words and full sentences in their heads. Instead, we hear rough thoughts, flashes of insight, and nuances that would surprise you. Like a musical composition, we hear all the notes of the orchestra, rather than just the one note or "voice" that Mundanes hear.

"SHIT." He thought. The mental image I had from him was that I was a ghastly shade of white, and the blood was flowing freely. "I've got to bandage you up. You're bleeding pretty heavily." Shit. Bloody mess. Have to touch him. No other way to do it. Bite the bullet, Gideon. John. Good kid. Tries too hard. Thinks he has to be perfect to make the old Man happy. Don't want perfection, just for him to try his best. He'll learn though. Rough roads ahead of him- the ones behind him were probably the same? Lonely life you've got there, kid.

"Captain." I was whispering as my head hurt severely. "You better get away. My shielding's collapsed and I can hear you. I can't shut you out. Hurts." I leaned against the rock, and wished wholeheartedly that he'd leave me here. Dying on an away mission would be better than the knowledge that the first EF Telepath was Court Martialed due to scanning his Captain accidentally.

Fuck. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Bite the bullet. Can't leave him here? Never will I leave anyone behind. Mental flash of a cruiser leaving someone behind quickly cut off in mid-thought. Calm down, Matt, he's probably got a headache to match the morning after a seven-day drunken binge, and you mentally yelling stuff probably is not helping him.]

"Head injury?" [nap it together, Matthew. Yes! He's got a head injury and his shielding has collapsed. Next inane comment? Quick! Think! His career's depending on how you react. "Ok. I, Captain Matthew Gideon, of the EF Cruiser Ulysses, am now giving you a direct order to scan me to prove my loyalty to EF." Great? Is that ALL you could fucking think of doing, Matthew? A goddamn Loyalty scan? Stupid, stupid. They'll crucify the kid. "Got to wrap your head up. How long will your shields be down?" Shit. What about the rest of the crew? Can't have him scan them for their loyalty to EF, too? That would never fucking fly.

"Don't know."

Gideon called on his comlink to the rest of the crew, advising them to return to the Ulysses, and advised them that his XO, Commander Mackenzie had to get some sort of cease-fire going as he had a wounded officer that couldn't be safely moved from his present location. Mackenzie? I am actually going to have to trust my life and his to Mackey? Oh God. Shit. You shouldn't be hearing THIS.

"Promise that I'll swear a vow of secrecy?" I whispered that, and I heard him laugh softly, mentally. "Cross my heart?" I vowed.

"I'm going to have to bandage that wound of yours. It's bleeding pretty hard." Nervous. He will hear me. SHIT.

My eyes were still closed, and I felt his hands gently beginning to inspect the wound. Deep cut there, kid. Concussion too, probably. Can you stay awake?

He pulled me to my feet and my resulting nauseousness caused me to start to vomit. Instead of mocking my weakness, Matthew grabbed me securely, and he helped me vomit my lunch in the stream. Ok, he actually positioned my head, and helped me to my knees while he tried not to join me. Hate vomit. Makes me want to hurl. Carefully he cleaned me up, and then he slowly stood me up again.

"Come on, it's a long road to Tipperary."


Matthew had half-carried me, half-dragged me to a small outcrop of rocks. While I collapsed in the corner, he carefully hid our location, and then he returned to find me shivering and feverish.

"Out of the clothes, Ensign. The blankets are dry."

The next three days were bit of a blur to me, hearing and sensing Matthew strongly at all times, even when I wasn't that with it mentally. Delirious with a high fever at times during this, I remember vivid moments where I kept asking Gideon repeatedly if I was still in Earth Force, and if I had been Court Martialed yet. Begging him to tell me that my parents weren't there to see my shame as I was stripped of my EF rank. I had been taken from them when I was quite young; in order to be trained by the Corps, but I still remembered my mother's arms as a place of safety, and that my father was a compassionate man. The Corps had fractured our relationship so now we were nothing more than... related strangers, but still they had both come to my graduation from the academy. I just didn't want them to see how I failed them, and all Telepaths in general. Feverishly, I kept mumbling that I didn't mean to scan him, but my head hurt so badly. I had nightmares that I was on trial, and that I had ruined forever the chances of a Telepath getting into EF. The star witness in all my nightmares was Matthew Gideon, who admitted that I had scanned him.

"Still in EF, John. Still in." Matthew continued to try to soothe me, while Mackenzie tried to arrange for a cease-fire.

"You're not lying?" I'd beg him to confirm it to me, over and over again.

Gently, he'd stroke my face, concentrating on sending his reassurances strongly to me that I was still an EF officer. Matt wasn't a Telepath and he was trying a bit too hard to send it to me, as he thought that I'd believe it better if he sent the reassurances mentally to me. His mental voice was thundering in my aching head, but I concentrated on it. Matt's aura was a mixture of guilt and compassion, grief and whimsy, and it was most assuredly masculine in its sexuality. He thought of me as nothing more than a kid, trying so hard to be perfect, and that I really needed a mentor to help guide me.

My crush had remained undetected, which was a good thing, after all. He'd probably be convinced it was a case of hero worship, and I wasn't that sure that he would be wrong. Fortunately, Mackenzie wasn't the best diplomatic by a long shot, and by the fourth day after my injury, my telepathic shields were stronger, and I could no longer hear Matthew. That's when Mackenzie managed to broker a cease-fire long enough to get us the hell out of there.

"How are your shields?" Gideon had asked me quietly, before we started off to the shuttle.

"Captain. I can't hear you anymore."

"Excellent." He answered that comment, firmly. No doubt he was grateful that I was no longer rummaging throughout his mind.

"Captain?" I whispered to him softly. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it."

{PAGE 2}

{Characters} {Introduction} {1 None So Blind} {2 Kshatriya} {3 Bingo, the Invisible Fish, and Starship Captain} {4 Because Warlocks Can't FLY} {5 Prayaschitta} {6 Let the Captain Have Some Dignity} {7 Epiphany} {8 Biases} {9 Moksha} {10 The Three Graces}

Witches Familiars

{Mistress Sarah}

{The Main Gate} {HomePage} {Wytches World} {We are Family} {A Little Artistic Licence} {No, we don't mean "A"riadne} {Our Home Is Our Castle} {The Witches' Diary} {Witches Familiars} {The Gateway} {Webrings}