Because Warlocks can't FLY

by Mistress Sarah

Summary: While on B5, John meets up with an estranged friend, and learns a few truths about life, including the fact that Warlocks can't fly.
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. Gideon/Lochley NC-17. m/m. f/m Angst.
Archiving: SW and WWOMB archive
Rating: PG-13

Two months later.

"Shore leave!" announced Captain Makam. "While I'd like to say we've been given a week at the Disney Planet for RnR, we've actually been given three days at Babylon 5."

"Babylon 5? That dump?" asked Dagmar Andersen, Chief Engineer. She was a tall blonde who apparently enjoyed a great deal of Doctor Zbignewski's company in off-hours. Originally rather nervous about dealing with me, she had become more comfortable with talking with me due to Dr. Zhivago's influence. After my brief time on the Dyavaprthivi, I knew perfectly well whose Zhivago's "Lara" counterpoint was on the crew, and it was Dags.

"Thank you for volunteering to man the engines for the entire Shore Leave, Lt. Andersen," Makam growled at her. Dags looked disappointed, and I tried not to laugh. From the corner of the table, St. John had a smirk on his face, which he had managed to avoid having seen by Captain Kali. Dags had set herself up for it, and the Dragon Lady was going to make her pay in spades. "Dismissed! Lt. Matheson, if you don't mind, I need to speak with you after the others leave."

The staff members left cheerfully, as the idea of shore leave was a happy diversion for our exhausted crew.

"I wanted to inform you that there will be a few other EF ships at B5 while we're there. The Koba Daishi, The Lexington... The Excalibur." She gave me a long penetrating look. "They've just come off a rather bad mission, and they're short handed again. Gideon's lost another first officer due to... something or other, and I'm not letting you go. Understood?"

"Yes, Madam."  [Gideon! Lochley! Oh God.]

"It will do you good to see your old friends. But I'm not letting Gideon grab you away from me. I don't know what the hell he's doing to his XOs lately, as he's gone through eight of them since you left, but rumor has it that he had threatened to space at least one of them. Dismissed."

"Say, Matheson, you can probably get Dags off engine duty for the full 72 hours, can't you?" Vladi asked me cheerfully when he caught up with me later.  Dags was next to him, and she looked hopeful. "I mean, the Old Lady apparently likes you, and you can probably sweet talk the Dragon into getting Dags off that assignment."

"You think that Makam likes me? I'm not the infamous Gabe after all," I dryly assured him. For no matter how hard I tried, the Dragon would often assure me that Gabe could and would have done better on whatever project I had just completed. The man deserved sainthood for putting up with her and satisfying her for all those years. Hell, I was willing to nominate him for a Noble Peace Prize!

"She does. Why else do you think she rides you that hard?" Dags admitted with a grin. "If she thought you were hopeless, she would be had gotten you transferred off the ship after she helped pack your bags. You'd have been transferred elsewhere... like maybe back to the... Excalibur? I hear they're looking for another First Officer!" She gave me a wink, and she hit Vladi on his arm.

"It that means she likes me, I think I'd prefer if she didn't like me so much!" I admitted.

"Supposedly, Excalibur's up to XO number ten right now!" Warlock laughed, as he joined our group. "I knew a few people that knew Martin Jackson. Jackson, his third replacement XO, barely lasted a week with him, and Marty said it was obvious that Gideon was trying to break him on the rack. You don't want to go back there! Did you know there's an actual EF pool being run to guess how many XOs Gideon's going to go through before they find the cure? While, you really can't place a wager because you know Gideon so well, but if you just tell me your opinion, and give me the money, I'll place the wager for you." Michael gave me an innocent smile that didn’t fool me one goddamn moment.

"FOR A SMALL FEE," chimed in Dags and Vladi, as Warlock was well known as taking a cut on any gambling going on the ship.

"Just a small one, after all, Madam Kali likes you. Even if you can't throw a dart to save your life."


We came limping into Babylon 5 after a firefight with the Drakh, and I felt... relieved. There were quite a few EF vessels around the station, so if the Drakh followed us here, they'd have a fight on their hands.

I was in my office, and I was talking to Captain Lochley. "Captain. Requesting permission to dock at B5 for needed supplies and maintenance."  For once, I wasn't my usual playful self with her. I usually annoyed her to no end when we docked, as I never followed protocols. But I had changed lately and not for the better.

"Matthew. What the hell? You look horrible and the Excalibur looks like it's been in a bloodbath."

I ignored that comment as I was in full-fledged Captain's mode. "I've got wounded that need medical attention. Chambers and her staff are completely overwhelmed. Care to lend us a few medics?"

"Of course."

I signed off, and then I started back on my 'to-do' list, which by now, numbered in the thousands. Where to start, though?

Loading dock

"Matthew?"  She appeared startled by my appearance and I wondered what I looked like to cause that reaction. Lately, I couldn't even bear to look at myself in the mirror, so I was hoping that my hair wasn't THAT messy. I walked off the shuttle and I had just finished making the arrangements for my crew to take some much needed shore leave. Then to arrange repairs to my ship, supplies, letters to write to crew members' families... God, the weight on my shoulder kept getting heavier and heavier. We were no closer to a Cure than we started our mission, I felt, and I had long stopped listening to the rising death toll on Earth.

My revolving door of XOs wasn't carrying their weight, and I had to do THAT job, too.  The one before this one, whatever his name had been, had actually accused me of purposely trying to destroy him, and I had been furious. 'If you can't cut it, then don't play with the big boys. We're looking for the Cure here, not to spoon feed you. Pack your bags, get ready to get the hell off the ship, you're returning to HQ as you're simply not acceptable to me.' I had taken great delight in marking his personnel records with "CANDIDATE DEEMED UNACCEPTABLE BY MATTHEW GIDEON, CAPTAIN" in large red letters, and handing it off to him. Her. THEM.

Then HQ was giving me a hard time, telling me that they were sending me the best and the brightest candidates to be my XO and that some Generals thought I was purposely destroying these idiots they were sending me. Some psyche guy told HQ that perhaps I was getting stressed with the lack of results in finding a cure, so I was taking my frustration out on these idiots! I told them that they better work on their selection of candidate process and that it wasn't my fault that their best and brightest was self-destructing. I mean, who the hell did that guy think he was, getting into a fight with Galen over where he parked his ship? Let's not even mention the problem what's-her-face had with Eilerson. Yes, he was arrogant, but he knew his shit. Which she didn't, which is why I called her an idiot.

And the damnable senior staff was walking around on eggshells, acting as though the slightest provocation would cause me to explode. Actually, I had to admit that I had exploded at Sarah when she had mentioned my recent personality change. HELL! I didn't need them acting like they thought I was breaking these idiots on purpose. I had a tough job here, trying to run a crew mixed with civilians, contractors and military with a few odd souls like a Technomage and a thief thrown in. I needed someone who could handle the pressure...

[Like John had?] Whispered a very soft voice in my mind, which I ignored. I always ignored that voice; except in the middle of my many sleepless nights when I realized that I never should have let Matheson leave the Excalibur. That soft voice also made numerous comments about how apparently Sarah and Dureena had heard from John on the Dya, but I hadn't heard anything from him. NOTHING. Not even "I'm really glad I'm not working with you anymore as recent reports have you acting like a mixture of Captain Ahab and Captain Bligh."

When the crew asked, I mumbled a few things that Makam had mentioned, so it sounded like I was hearing from John also. But Kritika was selective in what she was telling me, so I had been absolutely stunned and horrified when I overheard Sarah talking about John's first away team. Those two senior officers of Makam had deliberately tried to make John's first away team on the Dya a complete disaster, but my former XO had proved too smart for them. Putting them under arrest, and strip searching them. Good for John! They'd realize in time, that my John was deliberate and thorough in everything he did, and he had probably noticed what they were attempting in record time. Even without using his Telepathic ability, Matheson was always sharp as a tack.

Damn it, Makam! I had asked you to help John, not attempt to destroy him.

I had a horrible nightmare that night, which I blamed on the mock Chinese food that the canteen had served for dinner. That was why I had the nightmare, and no other reason. Ok, falling asleep while reading on Makam’s cultural background probably helped cause my dream in which she suddenly was the avatar of Kali. I recognized Kritika Makam, even though she was suddenly very gaunt, and very dark skinned. Her eyes were blood red, and she was covered in blood, while she wore a necklace of human skulls. Makam was also wildly dancing on a prone John Matheson's back, who had been tied, spread eagle to my conference table. John looked so young, younger than the first time I had met him all those many years ago. John's and my eyes had met for a moment, and his eyes were dark and wounded. To my shame, I was the one, who looked away first, as I couldn't face his plea for help in his eyes.

[Save me, Matthew.]

I settled my queasy stomach, and began to question the dancing figure on why she was going to destroy John. She ignored me, while she insanely whirled and twirled in her never-ending dance of war and death, so I then began screaming at Makam, wanting to know what the hell she was doing to John. Kritika promised me that she was going to help John, and instead she was destroying him.

She suddenly laughed an insane laugh, and I realized that her teeth were fangs. "To harm, one needs to have protected. To betray, one must trust. To hate, one must love. So to create, one must be able to destroy. For all are opposite faces of the same coin. To know joy, one must taste sorrow."  The longer I looked at John, the more he looked like a human sacrifice, to be killed on the altar of my pride and lust. His dark eyes had changed, and now they were full of calm acceptance of his fate. He would be destroyed, completely and utterly, sacrificed to appease my dark soul.

Making a move to protest John's treatment by his crazed commander, I was suddenly slammed into a chair by two men, whom I assumed to represent Makam's two senior officers. Both of the two men's eyes shone reverently as they looked upon their Captain. Devotees of the Captain, they would be of no help to John if Makam decided to destroy him.

I woke up filled with terror, when her face was no longer Makam's, but instead it had transformed into the male face of the Hindu god I knew to represent the Destroyer and the Procreator.  What scared me most was when I looked at the Shiva figure and I realized that his eyes were no longer Makam's dark brown. No, HIS eyes were hazel, just like mine and I knew that he looked like me. For what seemed like hours after I woke up, my heart was pounding in my chest, and I couldn't seem to catch my breath. Oh my dear God, John. What had I done, allowing you to leave the Excalibur? She's fucking crazy!

Then rational thought prevailed. No more Lo Mein ala Excalibur before I went to bed.

Lochley was still talking to me, while I was experiencing that mental flashback, so I tried to change the subject. After all, I had no idea what she was saying to me. "Elizabeth?" I was trying to be playful, found that I couldn't find the energy to be amusing as I was trying to focus on the really important things that needed doing. Like walking, breathing and talking. Humor was optional these days, especially since I didn't find anything funny anymore. "I need to get away from it all for a few hours. Please." I whispered. "Is there someplace I can hide? Maybe take an honest to god shower? I haven't been out of these clothes in days, it feels like."

My request stunned her, I think, as she agreed quickly. "You know my pass code. Let yourself in, make yourself at home."

"Bless you. I'm leaving... whoever the hell my first officer is, in charge. I can't remember what his name is. Since John's left, I've gone through... a few of them. Whatever his name is, he's decided to retire, so I'm without a first officer again.  God? How many have I gone through?" Searching my brain, I couldn't recall them all, as their faces blended and blurred into a dirty, tear stained face of a young Oriental EF officer.

"Seven. You've gone through seven of them in three months, Matt. That's a God damn record."

Actually it had been quite a few more, but I hadn't mentioned the ones that had lasted only a day or two before throwing in the towel. One had left on the very same shuttle she had arrived on; citing that after walking on the ship that she knew that the job was a no-win situation.

"They just can't cut it. They're sending me these people that just can't do the job. It's so damn frustrating. I need someone I can trust, and they're sending me... these... PEOPLE." I just shook my head.  "Marta lasted two days, then begged HQ to be reassigned, because I quote "The Captain's a Mad Man." End of Quote. Sebastian had severe problems with the IPX personnel and I HAD to get him reassigned before Eilerson and the rest of IPX quit. Can't say that I blamed them, he was... unbelievable? Jeri? I can't remember why she left."

"You called her an absolute idiot. In front of your staff, I can remember you telling me that." Lochley gave me a gentle smile, and I found myself smiling back at her. "You never did that to JOHN."

"She was one." I whispered that comment softly, and the smile had left my face when she mentioned HIS name. "Matheson never was an idiot. He knew what the hell he was doing, and what I needed. These people don't, and they lack the motivation of a slug to find out what the Excalibur needs!"

"Matthew. You shouldn't have called her that." Her voice was not the faintest bit sympathetic, but after all, Lt. Corwin had worked with her for years. She didn't realize what it was like to deal with a brand spanking new XO or FIFTEEN. "She was one." I whined plaintively and Elizabeth just shook her head in mild disbelief.

"We'll talk later."

The water was hot.  And I let it run until it reheated itself again. Washing the grime and dirt away, I finally felt clean again, body and soul. I was changing into something soft and clean when she walked in her quarters.

"Matthew. What is going on with you lately? The last few months you've been acting different. I rarely hear from you anymore, and when I do, it's usually only a sentence or two." She gave me a rather penetrating glance, and I knew she wasn't happy with my haggard appearance.

"Stressed." I answered her shortly. Elizabeth shook her head sadly at my one word reply, and I shrugged my shoulders.

"This is good news then, that is guaranteed to get you smiling again. Guess, which ship just asked permission to come aboard for some RnR? Captain Makam's Dyavaprthivi! You and John should get together to find out how his new assignment's going." She sat on the couch and gave me a happy smile. Dear God, seeing Matheson wouldn't help.  Not at all, for that was the problem that was wearing my soul down completely.

I had lied to her when John's transfer had surprised her. A career move, I had told her, a chance to work with a highly respected captain who had significant clout with the promotion boards of EF. Elizabeth didn't know that I had harmed John, and he had fled from the Excalibur. I had convinced her that I had been glad that John had gotten the transfer, as he was on his way UP the ladder! Captain, easily, maybe even Admiral Matheson, wouldn't that be something. To think, in my own little way, I had helped him out in his career! I don't think Lochley knew how bitter that last statement was to me. Nor how it festered in my soul.

Yeah, I had helped him all right.

"Maybe he can help HQ redefine their search criteria for your XO position. Nerves of Steel, Heart of stone. . ." she was mocking me, trying to cheer me up.

Instead of answering her, I kissed her,gently, tenderly. I hadn't seen her in months, even before John and I had. . . done what we had, and I wanted to prove to myself that I was still capable of being gentle with another human being. My list of broken and battered XOs haunted me at night, when that soft voice suggested that maybe I was being hard on them, just because they were trying to replace Matheson. It had taken me a few months to finally realize that the soft voice that was haunting me was John Matheson's. Actually, I had recognized his voice immediately, but I had refused to admit whose voice it was for the longest time.

"Matthew?" she said, breaking the kiss.

"Shh. . .  Shh. . . " I then kissed her again, and we ended in her bed, while I made love with her, slowly and gently.  I had to close my eyes for just a moment, as I suddenly had a flash of a young Oriental looking at me in absolute trust while I rutted and fed on his innocence. A young man having such complete, and misguided faith in me that he didn't tell me to stop because he trusted me while I destroyed him and his career.

John had been afraid of my lust but he hadn't said anything. You see, he trusted me, as I was his commanding officer, after all. John thought I was his friend, and that I'd never willingly hurt him. He loved me, so he had given me the gift of his virginity. John's first time should have been with someone who would have made it an incredible experience. Instead he would remember his first sexual encounter as one filled with shame, pain and embarrassment. I had nightmares, fortunately without the dancing Makam, in which John Matheson was looking at me with a terrified look in his eyes. A look that had been in his eyes when I had to... ORDER... him to let me... see if I had hurt him.

I kissed the side of her neck, lingering on her shoulder blades, allowing myself to do nothing but kiss her body for what seemed the longest time. Touching and caressing her gently, I was trying to control myself so that I wouldn't hurt her. Not like I had hurt... HIM.

But still he haunted me, even when I found myself closing my eyes, trying to concentrate completely on Liz.  For a moment, I was wishing that it was John whom I was touching and that he was allowing me to try to apologize for what I had done to him. Since our estrangement, I had often daydreamed that John was letting me show him how physical love should be between two people. He should know that between two people that there should be both gentleness and sharing that had been missing from our one time together. Perhaps one day, John would be lucky enough to find someone to teach him that.

If I had only known that I was the one that he loved, I would have been... so careful and gentle with him. I had dreams where after the two of us had made love, he hesitantly admitted that he still loved me, and that his shoulders had tightened defensively, as though expecting me to strike out at him. Instead of freaking out and rejecting him, I smiled at him, and then led him back to his bed where I concentrated harder on pleasing him.

God, if I had only KNOWN!  I never would have allowed it to progress to the point of the fast and furious fucking we had reached. In my exhausted state, I had considered what was happening between us a casual fuck, nothing more, desiring to satisfy him quickly, and then I had concentrated on my enjoyment of his body. From then on, I had merely needed to have him vocalize his enjoyment, occasionally, so I'd be content while I rutted on. Our sex had been hot, raw and brutal, until I realized that I was scaring him with my base desires.

Instead, John had wanted me to be his first partner, and he... he... told me that loved me. If I had only known that, I would have made it an incredible experience for him.

What was I saying? If I had known that he loved me, I never would have touched him. Instead, I would have gently sent him on to someone that appreciated what he had to give- someone who wouldn't have desecrated what he had to offer. Like...Dureena.

Sometime later, I had managed to pleasure Elizabeth repeatedly, and I kissed her again, trying to hide how nervous I felt. The last time, I had done this; I had destroyed someone about whom I cared deeply. Would the same thing happen now? I was about to enter her, when suddenly the comlink went off. Both of ours.


"Look. It's Sgt. Major O'Neill, and I think he's quite drunk right now" giggled Dags. "Plus two thirds of the O'Neill Obliterators." That was the dart team that he ran during his off-hours and they were apparently heading in the same direction that we were. The Obliterators were the top ranked dart team on the Dya, and the Warlock's Coven was the closely ranked second.

"Shh... he's entitled." Vladi whispered while Dags continued to laugh. "Say, Dagmar. Did you thank John for getting you out of engine duty yet?"

"I did." The engineer scowled at him. "Lt. Matheson, you have my undying devotion for getting me the hell out of that engine room."

"Even if B5's a dump?" I teased her.

"Even it's a goddamn dump!" she said cheerily.

We entered the DarkStar and found a table in the back. I was trying to avoid a certain someone's presence. I wasn't scanning for him; instead I was setting my shielding to an alert mode, able to detect a person's familiar mental aura from a distance. That's how I successfully managed to avoid Eilerson when he was in one of his moods. I just couldn't bear to see Gideon, not after what I had done to him. But as of yet, I hadn't felt his familiar mental signature.

"Look! There's St. John over by the window!" Dags called out loudly "Don't worry! We won't cramp your style by sitting with you!"

The Dya's Operations Officer gave Dags a wide smile, as he was quite enjoying the company of several lovely females from the "Lexington."

"Look like the Warlock's luck hold even with the opposite sex. There are EIGHT of them at that table, not including him. And all this time I thought his warlock magic worked only on mechanical things." Vladi laughed.

I ignored him, thinking very dark thoughts about Gideon and Lochley. [He's probably screwing Lochley right now. He's probably glad that she's not a nervous lay like I was.] I had hoped that being away from him would make those erotic dreams of my Matthew go away. They were... so pleasurable, the two of us being intimate... while my dream Matt was incredibly gentle with my inexperience and nervousness, patiently and carefully showing me the ways of love.

Our one time together had been rather furious, and I dreamed that he was slightly ashamed by how intense our lovemaking had gotten, so he had decided that for now, to slow things down. I secretly had enjoyed the intensity of our sex, but it had scared me also, so my dream Matthew was being rather patient with me, tender and loving. Apologetic for hurting me, Matthew concentrated on making sure I was comfortable with everything we tried. My dream lover's eyes didn't darken with rage when I hesitantly admitted that I still loved him. Instead, he smiled slightly and took me back to bed while each experience grew more and more incredible.

My desire for Matt grew worse and worse as my dreams grew ever more explicit and detailed, and I found myself... wishing for what couldn't ever be. Instead of slaking my thirst, my one night with him found me wanting him even more.

We ordered our drinks and something to eat, and that's when all hell broke loose. I had noticed that there was a large presence of EF military personnel throughout B5, and that Lochley had increased the security presence throughout B5.  Good thinking on her end as the tension was high among the EF crews. It had been almost two years since the Drakh had let lose the plague, and we were no closer to the cure. Earth was dying, and people were getting frustrated and stressed.

"Look. It's the Goddamn Teep from the Dyavaprthivi!" O'Neill and his group suddenly stopped, and turned to face the drunken voice. As though to an errant child, O'Neill informed him of the proper way to pronounce Dyavaprthivi while his team members laughed.

Apparently appreciating the audience, the drunk continued to make a running commentary on Telepaths in EF, and me in particular.

"Corporals? I believe that your friend here, has had too much to drink." That was Marine Sgt. Major O'Neill who was facing eight rather drunken Marines. "Perhaps you should take Jackson back to the Lexington before he embarrasses himself, your ship and your Captain."

The very tall, drunk Marine then got very nasty with O'Neill, and O'Neill ignored him, calmly ordering drinks for his group. Ignoring him until the Marine made a comment about the Dragon Lady and her freak Teep, the first officer. Silence descended, and O'Neill asked him quietly to repeat what he just said. He had removed the cigar from his mouth, and then had rather regrettably snuffed it out. On the Marine's shirt. Somehow I just knew how the hell this was going to end, and I didn't have the faintest ability as a precognitive.

In the background, I heard St. John yelling loudly, in the sudden stillness that occurs before a major incident, and that he was ordering O'Neill to step away, to back down, as it was a direct order from his superior officer. O'Neill politely advised Warlock that he was waiting for the Marine to answer his question as Tom outranked the other Marines.

The Marine gladly did, embellishing on my many faults as a Human, and Military Officer in particular. Plus a few choice comments about Makam that I knew really upset her loyal head of Security. O'Neill politely advised the drunk that he shouldn't make those comments in front of the crewmembers of the Dya. Courteously, he told him that the words he used to describe his commanding officers were vulgar, crude and incorrect.

The Marine made a few more nasty comments, especially about me, so O'Neill, who never really spoke to me more than absolutely necessary after that away team incident, who apparently hated ALL Telepaths, proceeded to hit him. The head of Security for the Dya hit the younger Marine hard, so that the Marine's head hit the counter of the bar with a loud crack. The Marine's friends then decided to jump the upstart that had knocked out their friend. It quickly turned ugly as the Obliterators suddenly pitched in to help their leader.

St. John began yelling loudly in his comlink, screaming "SECURITY TO..." when he was suddenly silenced. There was a sound of a bottle being broken, and I realized that the "Lovely Ladies of the Lexington" had just decided to break a bottle or two over Mike's head to silence him. The enemy had been challenged, insults had been exchanged, the enemy was engaged in combat and the first blood had been shed.

The fight was ON!

Soon chairs were getting thrown, more bottles were being broken and I noted that there were a few people from the Excalibur who had jumped in. Somewhere in the background, I heard O'Neill screaming in Sanskrit, of all things, yelling a war cry of "For the honor of the Dya! To Arms!" The crew of the Dya rather quickly took up that war cry and soon everyone was yelling something. Loudly. In Sanskrit, Korean, Standard, Russian and a few other languages I didn't recognize. All I was yelling was that I wanted to get the hell to the Exit before things got even worse.

Bar fights aren't pretty as they have a tendency to escalate into a full-blown riot, which was now happening in the DarkStar.  I tried to escape, found myself fighting for my life as things had really gotten out of control. Dags had broken a chair, and was using it to defend herself against a few Marines who had recognized her as being from the Dya. I heard the sound of glass shattering and realized that some unlucky soul got thrown out the window.

"WARLOCK'S BEEN THROWN THROUGH THE WINDOW" yelled Dags. Apparently St. John's bevy of beauties, not being merely content with him being knocked unconscious, had decided to throw Warlock through the window during the midst of the bar fight. "Vladi! John! We've got to help him!" Turning around, the three of us started fighting toward that side of the room.

When Lochley and I ran down to the DarkStar, I was fearing for the worse. Earth Force personnel on shore leave had apparently started a riot in the middle of the B5's commercial district. Wonderful. Lochley was busy yelling instructions to her XO while we were racing down to the DarkStar.

Lochley's spur of the moment plans were in vain. Makam was already outside the DarkStar with fellow EF Captains Ivo Lee, and Thuy Nyugen, and she had already taken command of the situation. She had already ordered the B5 riot troops to use... PEPPER SPRAY... on the rioters.

Not sleeping gas, but pepper spray, as it would burn their eyes, nose and throat, and would just be a rather unpleasant and intense experience. Lee and Nguyen had approved wholeheartedly with her plans, while Lochley and I weren't happy. Over three hundred EF personnel were rioting in the DarkStar, and I could just imagine what pepper spray would do to them all.

We both began to protest her plans when she slapped us down hard. "Straighten your hair out, Gideon. It looks like a haystack. You too, Lochley." She snapped that at both of us. "You have to look presentable when you're busy reaming your crews a new hole. Here's your air masks. Be prepared to use it, I won't need one, as I'm going too busy killing my senior staff to bother breathing. Every cursed one of them are somehow involved in that damn riot."

"Captain!" Lochley warned. "This is my station. I don't agree with how you're handling this situation."

"Tough. You and lover boy are the late arrivals. The discussion on how to handle this crisis was held, and the decision made by all those present. I can't help it if you two decided to miss the planning stage. I'm the senior Captain here, and Lee's the second. So while you two were... indisposed, we made the plan, and Nguyen agreed. I've already given the teams their orders. They aren't happy, but I convinced them to smile and put a brave face on."

"I protest!" Lochley continued her vain fight against Makam's handling of the situation. I remained quiet, as just I knew my face was flaming. Lover boy? Makam had put our arrival together plus our rumpled appearances and come up with the correct sum. Damn it, it had taken us less than five minutes to get here, how the hell could she have gotten everything organized in that time frame?

"Your protests are logged and noted." That was Ivo Lee, who plainly didn't care. He was a grizzled war veteran, only a few years younger than Makam, who wanted to solve this problem, quickly and effectively. If we had to pepper spray three hundred EF personnel and dozens of civilians to end this, so be it. They had decided to brawl, and now it was time to pay the piper. "When Earth Force looks into this, and starts figuring out what the hell went on here, they'll blame Kritika and me if anything goes wrong. I'm getting close to retirement age, anyway."

Kritika glared at Elizabeth, who stepped back down. Amazing. I'd have to patent that glare, as it put the fear of Makam into Elizabeth. Lochley was straightening out her hair, and Kritika gave me an amused look when I sheepishly realized that I was trying to make myself presentable. DAMN HER.

Her smile vanished quickly. "LOCK AND LOAD," roared Kritika, and there was a sudden eerie silence in the hallway outside the DarkStar as the riot teams loaded their weapons. The only sound was coming from the riot in the DarkStar, and I realized that my headache was back again. "We go in, I start yelling, then Ivo, as we've got the loudest voices among the five of us. Then Thuy, Matt and then Liz. If all of us yelling doesn't snap those idiots back to their senses, we'll use the pepper spray on them."

"Let's go kick the fucking door in, shall we?" That was Thuy. I was startled by her attitude, as she was a new Captain, with barely six months in the "Captain's chair." That's why I didn't expect her to sound like a mixture of the bloodthirsty duo, Lee and Makam. "I'm going to knock some heads together. I can't believe my XO and Doctor are involved in that mess. Those idiots ruined my first shore leave in months, so I'm going to space them all."

"I like your attitude." Ivo said cheerfully.

"Wouldn't suggest it. Too much paperwork. Make their lives a living hell. That's what I'm planning on doing." That was Makam, and I suddenly was worried about John.

In the background, I heard alarms going off, and I heard the sound of someone ENTERING the bar. Actually, it was the sound of a fully armed riot troop entering the bar. There's not quite another experience like it, I've found over the years. The thumping of the heavy combat boots, the smell of pepper gas waiting to be dispersed on the unruly crowds, and the inhuman sound that your commanding officer makes upon discovering the rather embarrassing fact that their crew had helped start the brawl.


The crew of the Dyavaprthivi immediately stopped and started saluting. I noticed O'Neill suddenly turned his right cross into a salute in mid-swing, easily, as though he did that move daily. Another voice suddenly yelled over the din, and then another voice rang out over the noise. The two more familiar voices began screaming. It was then that I realized that there were five captains standing in the DarkStar, all of them looking severely pissed. Lochley, Makam, Nguyen from the Daishi, was that Lee? From the Lexington? And... Gideon. Gideon apparently had scrambled into his jumpsuit, as he was looking somewhat rumpled. This riot had obviously interrupted his one on one time with Lochley, as she was looking somewhat hurriedly dressed also.

Quiet descended on the DarkStar quickly, as everyone had the same thought at the very same time. SHIT, WE'RE IN TROUBLE NOW. As far as I could see, everyone was suddenly stopping what they were doing, and they were saluting the five very angry captains. Those saluting included a few civilians, I noticed. Lochley snapped her fingers and I noticed that the riot troops had broken into four separate squads and that they were distributing themselves throughout the DarkStar.

Looking at Matthew, I realized that he literally looked like hell. He was looking rather grim, and I could tell that Matthew had lost a lot of weight in the past few months. Gideon also looked exhausted, and I found myself worrying about him, that he was pushing himself too hard to find the Cure. Suddenly I was deeply ashamed of myself, over what I had done to Matthew. His revolving doors of replacement XO's were not helping him with the search for the Cure. If I had only kept my damn mouth shut, he never would have known how I felt! He had been my friend, my mentor, and I had totally destroyed that relationship.

I tried to hide, but I suddenly realized that Makam was staring at her four senior officers who were in the midst of the greatest amount of damage. Fully expecting a lightening bolt from her third eye, I stayed firmly where I was. As did Vladi, Dags and O'Neill. She was livid, I could tell by the way her voice was suddenly very tonal. Normally she spoke in a crisp, educated British voice, but when she was emotional, the childhood speech patterns came back in a rush.  Makam was transforming into Kali before my very eyes, and I was glad when Kali-Makam, Captain and Destroyer, decided to speak to Vladi first. If she was going to demand a human sacrifice, the much larger Zbignewski was younger than I, meaning that his meat was probably quite tender. He'd be a tasty morsel, not me.

"I did not expect that I would be dragged off to stop a brawl. Dr. Zbignewski, what just happened here?"

"A fight, Madam?" He answered that hopefully, and I winced. That flippant answer was going to piss her off more.

"Really, I couldn't have guessed that. Perhaps the fact that my Operations Office is right now lying outside the bar might have been a tip off? Do you know, Sgt. Major O'Neill, why that might be a tip off for your Captain?" Quickly, she decided to focus on O'Neill, who wasn't looking very well.

O'Neill had been plummeted pretty hard by the Marines, and he wasn't up to verbally sparring with the Iron Maiden. "No, Madam?"

"Because Warlocks can't FLY. Which could possibly mean that some people threw him through a window?  Fortunately, he managed to notify security about a riot occurring in the DarkStar before he became airborne. At least I can depend on ONE of my senior officers to behave themselves during shore leave." Her sarcasm was readily apparent, and I saw that Gideon was about to get involved. He still hadn't seen me as I was hiding behind a rather large potted plant that concealed me at his particular viewpoint. [Oh God. No! Not him! Not Lochley!]

Lee caught the eyes of the women who had thrown Warlock out of the window, and I could see that he was promising each and every one of them a rather painful and personal punishment. Gideon saw someone he recognized, and he pounced. "Mr. Miller. What happened?" he asked quietly.

"I was trying to leave the bar sir, when the fight suddenly got out of hand." He was trying to convince Matthew that he was but an innocent bystander, but it just didn't work. Trace had been the first to jump in to defend my honor.  I remember him yelling for his Excalibur buddies to help defend their former XO. O'Neill had gotten annoyed with the Excalibur crew came screaming in to help, as he kept yelling that the Dya would take care of its own.

He just didn't want to share the fight, I knew.

The Captains continued to try to find out what happened, questioning their different crewmembers who were remarkably uncertain on who exactly started the fight, what was it about, and other non important details that only seemed to be the concern of their commanding officers. Suddenly Makam again focused on her favorite head of security, who had an unlit cigar in his mouth.

"Sgt. Major O'Neill, I must confess that I find this entire incident fascinating. I believe that your nose was pointing in the opposite direction before you entered the DarkStar. Do you think you can shed some light on this distressing event?"

"Madam!" He saluted again, oblivious to the blood that was flowing freely from his nose, and he removed the cigar from his mouth. His nose was quite crooked, and one eye was swollen shut. "Permission to speak bluntly?"


"The dogs from the Lexington made a few derogatory comments, Madam. I care not to repeat them in front of you and Captain Lochley, Madam." He sounded perfectly sober, which surprised me to no end. Tommy had been out bar hopping for some time, so I didn't think that he could still be sober. Probably he was stone cold sober, that Irish dissembler and trickster.

"Don't worry, I think I can handle it. What did they say?" That was Lochley who was inspecting the damage to the bar and shaking her head in disbelief. I snuck a look at Ivo, and I realized that he was furious that his crew had started the brawl. He was gingerly pushing Jackson with his foot, as though not willing to touch an Untouchable. Jackson was moaning softly, and Lee was shaking his head in disgust.

"Captain Lochley. One of the Lexington dogs, used slurs against my captain and my first officer which I, being a proud crewmember of the Dyavaprthivi could not tolerate from them." I heard a few murmurs of support from Dya crewmembers, and O'Neill gave a hopeful glance at Makam, wishing that bit would save him. It wouldn't of course, and Tommy knew that quite well, but still he hoped. "I asked him to please stop. When he didn't, I was required to take further action. The Excalibur crew, wanting to defend the reputations of their Captain and his former XO, decided to help me in that matter."

"So. What did they say?" that was the Captain of the Lexington who had decided to stop nudging Jackson, and was now staring at his disgraced crewmembers in disgust.

"Sir. I again wish not to repeat what they said in public, especially not in front of Captains Lochley, Makam and Gideon, Sir." Tommy was beginning to slur his words, and he was turning a rather odd shade.

"SGT. MAJOR O'NEILL. Re-PORT!" The Dragon Lady gave him a look that would have frozen a supernova, and he continued with his story.

"Corporal Jackson made a few... derogatory comments about Lt. Matheson. Including a comment that he was removed from the Excalibur per Captain Gideon's request due to... Lt. Matheson scanning him." His distaste for that statement didn't surprise me, but it was close enough to the truth to make it wound me again.

"What?" asked Gideon quietly, and my heart sank. Once again, Matthew was obviously angry, and I was involved.

"He was quite insistent on that. Kept commenting on how supposedly he heard Captain Gideon say that Matheson couldn't be trusted for that reason, and he also stated how Captain Gideon said that the Iron Bitch was probably safe from scans. Apparently, Madam, the Captain doesn't think you have a soul to be scanned."

"That's true, Matthew, but still rather impolite to point out to others. Now, Dr. Zbignewski?" Captain Makam asked the doctor who had walked over to examine the Marine, who was turning an interesting shade of puce.

"St. John's out cold. They hit him pretty hard with a bottle or two. Then they decided to hit him with a chair. Possibly as many as three chairs." Vladi said dryly. "Then they really got annoyed with him and tossed him out the window. He couldn't really defend himself as he was busy screaming for security on all eight comlink channels when the Lexington Valkeries decided they were going to personally escort him to Valhalla."

"Captain Makam, Lt. St. John did try to stop this from escalating into a riot." O'Neill spoke that carefully, while Zbignewski continued to examine him.

"Remind me to thank St. John for behaving like an officer when he's conscious, Sgt. Major O'Neill. You four may want to take a few lessons from him. In fact, I'll be INSISTING on it." She snapped that at O'Neill, who was beginning to look glassy eyed. "Dr. Zbignewski?"

"Concussion. Broken orbital. Three cracked ribs and a left shoulder that's going to have to be reset. Besides the nose that even a layperson can see is broken. I'd like to get his hard head back to our Medbay for further testing. Even his hard head can be broken by being jumped by six Marines."

"Very well, Lt. Matheson," instructed Captain Makam, while Gideon suddenly whipped his head around, trying to notice where I was. "Take our crew members back to the Dyavaprthivi. Shore leave has been cancelled until we can straighten this out. Dr. Zbignewski, you will attend to Lt. St. John, as he will NOT be treated on B5. We will take care of our own."

He was there, and he didn't look at me. I had run into the DarkStar, and I hadn't noticed him, hiding behind a plant, during my initial inspection of the room. Bar fights! Riots! Just another problem to weigh down my overloaded soul. I had hoped for a moment that he'd look at me, and give me his old whimsical grin. "Another shore leave, another bar fight," he would sigh. The two of us had cleaned up more than a few bar fights in our time together, and I had always enjoyed his dry comments commenting on the various losers, winners and the reasons for the brawl. But his smile was gone. How I missed that smile during the past few months, sometimes looking up after making a comment he would have liked, and then realizing, that he wasn't there to grin appreciatively at my whimsy.

Instead, John Matheson was trying to ignore me, concentrating grimly on getting his crew members rounded up to go back to the Dyavaprthivi. He *ignored me*, acting as though I wasn't standing there. I had foolishly hoped that after a few months, I would have been able to approach him and we could possibly talk about what had happened between us. But he was still terrified of the darkness I carried in my soul.

Our eyes met once for a brief moment, and I was surprised when I felt such pain when I looked into his dark eyes. For some reason, something in my visage caused him to flinch, and he turned away from me. But it was not before I saw that look I couldn't recognize in his eyes again. Was it anger? Regret? Disgust? No, no, no! But I did recognize that he was terrified. He was still terrified of me, even though it had been months since I hurt him. It was that damn Marine's fault and his comments about what I had supposedly said that had aggravated the wound in his soul, ripping the wound's scar open again. After I had casually destroyed his pride, John probably believed that I would willingly destroy his career by saying that nonsense.

I was absolutely furious when I found out that someone had been spreading rumors about why John had left the Excalibur. They thought I had sent him away as Matheson had scanned me. Dear God! Matheson would take that comment to heart, and let it fester in his soul. He didn't believe that I'd say something like that, did he?  Deep down, I knew that John Matheson took everything to heart, and he would let it eat away at him all the while pretending it didn't.  How could I convince him that I never said that, let alone, thought that?

Damn me for a fool.  He thought he loved me and I had done nothing but wound his heart and soul repeatedly.  I was tempted to help him as he and the Dya's doctor were trying to treat their Ops Officer who was still lying on the walkway outside the DarkStar. There were a quite few women hovering over them, wearing the colors of the Lexington, who were looking rather sheepish. I would have, truly I would have helped him, except for the terrified look in his eyes when our eyes had met. He FEARED me, so I decided that it would be best for both of us if I didn't force the issue.

Besides, I had my own problems to deal with, so I had to take care of my crew first. Lee was walking over to Matheson, anyway, and I knew what that look in his eyes foretold for his crew. After all, it matched the look in my eyes. Fury.

I got my crewmembers back to the Excalibur where I gave them such a tongue-lashing that it scared the hell out of me. Silently, they took my tirade and suddenly, I was exhausted. "I'm cancelling shore leave until tomorrow. Then I will carefully let a few of you out at a time. If anything happens, at all, even if someone complains that one of you has so much as littered, I will put you back on the ship, and cancel all further shore leave indefinitely. Then you will scrub out every Goddamn conduit in the Excalibur with a toothbrush until I am happy. Which will be in three YEARS, if not longer. Do you understand?"

I just held onto Elizabeth that night, needing to feel someone next to me who wasn't terrified by what I had become. Was everyone right about me? Was the stress of finding the Cure for humanity, destroying my soul? Could it be my friend, the Apocalypse Box, expanding its hold on me? Had John done the right thing by fleeing from me? Maybe he had fled from me, the man he believed he loved, fearing that my darkness would destroy him?

That was the question that haunted me night and day, disrupting my sleep, and destroying my soul.

Suddenly, I recognized the unnamed look in his eyes that had been haunting me. SHAME. Was he ashamed of what had happened between us? Or was he... ashamed that the person he had trusted, that the man he had placed on a pedestal, had clay feet? Was John ashamed that he had so misjudged me? Was he plagued with nightmares about how wrong he was about me? Perhaps Matheson was deeply mortified over the fact that he had given me, a man full of darkness, his innocence, his love and his respect? Oh God, no. I had already lost my self-respect, but to completely lose John's regard would completely break my shattered heart.

But I probably had already long since lost his respect, as I had... hurt him. Did John ever have silly daydreams that one day we'd be lovers and that I'd be a kind and compassionate lover?  I had certainly destroyed that notion as I remembered how I had to order him to let me look at him afterwards.... and how his body hadn't stopped trembling under my hands during my exam. For a moment, I remembered how he had shared his pain with me, briefly, and then shut it down. How much else had he hidden from me, fearing how I'd react?

Foolish me, all this time, I had hoped that one day we'd be able to talk about what happened between the two of us. But that day would probably never arrive. I tried to curl up under the covers, to stare at the ceiling of Elizabeth's bedroom, and I began to count the tiles. There were one hundred and twenty-two tiles in my ceiling, and four thousand, nine hundred and sixty three tiles in the cafeteria. During my sleepless nights on the Excalibur, I counted ceiling tiles like sheep, hoping that I'd be able to fall sleep, but it never really worked. One, two, three...

"Matt? What's with you lately? Ever since Matheson left... you've been different." That was Elizabeth, who I suddenly realized that I should be concerned for. What if my darkness spread to her, also?

"Just... really... tired." That's all I could say to her, and she shook her head. My spiritual change had occurred before John had left. I wanted to talk to her, truly I knew I needed to speak to someone about this, but the only person I could really talk with, feared me and had fled from me. I realized that I never had felt this alone before, even after the Cerebus had been destroyed. It was because I finally had found someone I trusted completely, and I had destroyed him by the darkness in my soul.

"Come on Matt. Stop hiding. I know this great restaurant down below that you'll like. Change into something that makes you look like a civilian. Trust me, you'll have a great time." She was getting dressed again, and she appeared annoyed that I was quite satisfied to conceal myself in her bed for a while longer.

"Do I have to? Can't I just hide here?" I had the bed covers over my head, and I was debating hiding for a few more days in her quarters. It wasn't as though they had difficulty finding me. "They" had managed to locate me for the brawl, security tailing Dureena, Sarah's problem with medical supplies and the new XO's arrival.

They had even delivered to me an extremely sincere apology from Captain Lee for what his crewmember had said. Apparently, he was a raging terror right now, while his crew spent their entire shore leave trying to repair the damage in the DarkStar. He also invited Nguyen and me down to the DarkStar to view how hard he was working his crew. I had admitted that I was rather impressed to see the Marine that had started this riot and the lovely ladies from the Lexington, scrubbing the floor on their hands and knees.

Meanwhile Captain Lee vocally criticized their efforts as halfhearted, sloppy and disgraceful. When Lee questioned Captain Nguyen and me, we had to sadly agree with his assessment of their work, which caused them to start working even harder. Captain Lee had decided that since his crew had started the argument that they would repair what they could, and pay for the rest of the damages. Ivo Lee was even in the midst of the repair work, helping to replace the window that his crew had broken.

Elizabeth shook his head, apparently not understanding why I had this strong desire to hide from everyone. Actually, I wasn't hiding; I was protecting everyone from the darkness that was Matthew Gideon. People should be thanking me for hiding, not trying to entice me to go out in public. I should be getting the goddamn Medal of Honor for protecting the people onboard B5. "No. It's a great place. Kind of spicy." She motioned at me to get out of bed, and to get dressed.

"How about takeout?" I mumbled.

"Get up, Matthew."

"Don't they deliver?" I asked.


The way my stomach churned, I knew I was making a huge mistake. "Ok."

I slipped into something civilian, but Elizabeth gave me a dirty look. "Try to slouch, you look intimidating."

"I'm no longer ruggedly handsome anymore?" I quipped at her, trying to be upbeat and failing miserably.

"No. You look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders."

"Try the Universe" I whined, wishing that my headache would leave.

"Poor Matt." She mockingly told me.

It was called the Masala Vidai and it was in a particularly nasty looking section of down below.  The decor was rundown and exhausted, and it matched my mood *perfectly*. It was down right amazing, the way my luck was lately, that we were shown a table immediately. I saw someone out of the corner of my eye, who looked very familiar, and I hoped that it was Makam, who had decided to take sometime out for her native cuisine. Maybe it was she, and she'd have invited her first officer out to lunch. I could imagine her saying in the Makam style that I had come to know and appreciate, "I convinced a newbie to have lunch with me. Most of the regulars know better than that by now. Zhivago says he's got the stomach pump ready for him. Oh look, here he is! Over here!" She would give a fluid wave of her hand to... John Matheson.

I'd invite them to sit with us, and maybe John and I would... talk. Perhaps I could convince him that I never said anything about him scanning me to anyone. But it wasn't she as I was having foolish daydreams of something that couldn't happen. The chasm between John and myself was now so wide that I didn't see any possible way of breaching it, and I found myself regretting it anew. The waitress came to take our order, and Lochley went on to order fluently, in the server's native tongue, six or seven dishes.

Something sounded familiar. "Vindaloo. You said Vindaloo. That means really hot, doesn't it?"

"So, did you get a chance to talk to John before the Dya shipped out?" Elizabeth asked.

"They're gone? Already? I thought they had two more days of shore leave?" I tried to hide the disappointment in my voice, but Elizabeth knew me far too well. While I wasn't going to speak with John, I had planned to speak with Kritika, and tell her in no uncertain terms that I didn't approve of the stunt she had pulled on John's first away team. The two of us hadn't really had a chance to talk, as the only time we were face to face was when Kritika outlined her plans for handling the situation in the DarkStar. Both of us had been far too angry to chitchat about her new XO.

When I last saw Kritika, from across the hallway, we still didn't have a chance to talk. She had been busy screaming at her crew, cursing loudly at them in Sanskrit and a few other languages, while the disgraced crew from the Dya had been marched, double-time, off to the shuttles. I shook my head when I realized that Elizabeth was still speaking to me about the Dya's recent jump and their current mission. My head was still pounding, and I was just reliving that entire mess in the DarkStar over and over again. Comments supposedly made by me about John Matheson had incited a riot involving EF personnel. It was the ripple effect, as a single incident had set off currents that were still affecting other events, which in turn continued to spread. Damn it! If I had only kept my Goddamn pants on, this wouldn't have happened.

"Makam stopped by the DarkStar to drop off the fines she had levied against her crew for the brawl, and then they jumped to their next assignment. So, you didn't get a chance to talk to him, did you?"

"No." I admitted that carefully, between sips of cold water. Vindaloo meant supernova hot, not just merely hot.

"Water's not going to help. Drink milk." Liz advised me. "You didn't make the effort did you? Makam probably would have allowed you into the brig for a few minutes to talk to him. She might have even stopped stretching him on the rack while you two chatted, but I'm not sure. She's rather... intense, isn't she? I am certainly glad that I'm not one of her senior officers. She marched them off in handcuffs and under full guard." She looked at me, and she shook her head. "Any particular reasons why you didn't speak to John?"

"Elizabeth!" I was annoyed. "He's doing phenomenally well with Makam. I keep close tabs on him through Kritika and from all reports; he's doing extremely well. She has absolutely no complaints about him. She even gave him a sterling evaluation last month. So, I don't want to talk to him and make him feel guilty about the two or three..."

"SEVEN," she reminded me.

[Try like fifteen] "The two or three first officers I've gone through since he left."

She kept pestering me to find out what my problem was, and I kept telling her to back off. It went downhill from there and we had a blistering fight in her quarters. Soon, it became readily apparent to me that the lovely Captain of B5 would no longer be happy to see the grumpy, foul-tempered, grouchy Captain of the Excalibur at her doorstep.

"Elizabeth, this was the one place I can escape from Captain Matthew Gideon, savior and hero of the Universe, Leader of Earth's last, best hope for a Cure. Why can't you let me have this sanctuary? Why do you have to keep refusing me this?" I asked her.

"Because you're running away from whatever is eating you. You've changed, Matthew, and I don't like the change."

"Funny, I don't seem to remember me ever deciding to let you approve or disapprove of my characters flaws." I snapped at her, and then I returned to the Excalibur. My new first officer, Jenn O'Keefe, was on board and the ship was retrofitted.

"Get us the hell outta B5," I told her, and she complied. Amazingly enough, I wasn't that disappointed that Lochley and I were no longer an item, as that meant she was safe from the raging terror known as Matthew Gideon.

{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}