by Mistress Sarah

Summary: Matthew Gideon deals with someone that he'd rather not have to face.
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. NC-17. m/m. Angst.
Archiving: SW and WWOMB archive
Rating: R

Something was seriously wrong with Gideon. He had nearly punched me in the middle of the conference room full of horrified witnesses. All these years, I would have thought Gideon was the man to quietly 'take it outside’ and then beat the shit out of me. Or maybe have his chief flunky Matheson mentally slap me a few times but Captain Courageous hadn’t done that. No, instead, he pretty much had a nuclear meltdown just now. Think, Max! You’re the Goddamn brain! You’ve got four advanced degrees and you can figure out what just happened.

Mental meltdown comes to mind, right off the back. Cracking up is another term.

Think, every word was important, as his subconscious had been running things, not the usually super controlled, cocky Matthew. That man in the conference room wasn’t the usual Captain Arrogant, but instead, he had been almost like a fearful, abused child. What did he say to me, and how did he phrase it again? He had mentioned the bit about me being a contract employee, but with a twist.

'Feeding on other people’s pain’ and he made a comment about data crystals. Gideon had really pissed me off with that comment, so I had gotten in his face and backed him in a corner. Matt had gotten absolutely crazy then, and he had tried to hit me with a wild swing that just screamed that he was on the absolute edge. As I was attempting to duck, I had noticed that his swing had a lot of energy behind it, but not a whole hell of a lot of thought. If Gideon had thought about it at all, instead of just swinging, John would never have been able to stop that blow from landing on my fair face.

It had been an act of reflexes, not conscious thought. Much like Pavlov’s slobbering dog. RING! Ring the bell, and watch as Gideon freaks out and tries to hit the Xeno-archeologist.

He had been lying on Sheila Masterson’s couch for a while, and Matt had seemed to be getting better mentally and physically. Masterson wheeled onto the ship, occasionally, just to say "Hello" and she had made the effort to talk to the senior staff, including myself. Matt appeared steadier in the past few months, but his usual pretense of dislike for me had intensified and metamorphosed into that shocking display in the ready room.

Pondering that thought, I fell asleep and dreamed that I was sitting on my couch, watching one of those data crystals that I had collected from assorted places. The stuff normally was crude and laughable, but tonight, it was realistic, as though I could reach out and touch the blonde Mistress. Her toy was a man, with shaggy hair and a beard, whose face I couldn’t really see. He was shaking hard, and she laughed while she traced his limbs that were tied spread-eagle.

"Come on, little man, don’t be afraid. Your body is enjoying this, and so could you, if you just didn’t fight so hard."

Mumbling something so softly that I couldn’t hear him, her victim shook his head.

"Hearing you repeat name, rank and serial number just turns me on." The blonde cooed as she kissed his face and then straddled his belly. "Repeat it again, so I can hear it this time, Lover boy."

He repeated it over and over again, while she slapped him. "Louder! LOUDER!" At last, she grew bored with her prey that didn’t want to play her game. "I have an idea that you’re going to just love and it will have you screaming your name, rank and serial number. If you do it loud enough, I’ll stop. I promise, I will. You trust me don’t you? I’m the only friend you have. I’m the one that’ll protect you, when the guys decide that your uses are over. You can be my personal toy, to amuse me during the long lonely years ahead. You can warm my bed at night, and do everything I tell you to do. Because you’ll be my slave, and you’ll be so well trained."

"You’ve been in space long enough to realize that some things... are just... strange, painfully strange. Have you ever seen two Pak’Ma’Ras mating? A Pak’Ma’Ra is such a dirty creature; do you know that they’ll eat anything including carrion? Did you also know that they’d fuck anything? I mean, rotten flesh is rotten flesh, whether it’s screwing you, dog, or eating the dead."

"You’re shaking. Are you that afraid? Come now, most people find this extremely pleasurable. I know what I’ll do, I have a few toys that I’ll use to prep you."

No. Why the hell was I dreaming THIS? The blonde smirked as the cameras went in for the close ups and started using all those amusing little toys, that make the naked female stars scream out in passion. The man didn't scream and moan like the stars did, instead I saw a tear run down what was left of his face while he trembled in terror. Then he just seemed to shut down completely as though he was frozen - not moving - anything...and the cast, they just carried on with the party, like it didn't really matter...he was just existed to be abused...alive or dead, for their enjoyment. His body responded automatically to what they did to him, but his soul had apparently fled for a safe haven.

Instead of protesting, even when the Pak’Ma’Ra’s tentacles began caressing his body, he just looked at me, wordlessly begging me for help. His eyes were dark pools of pain, and they bored into my soul, beseeching my help in escaping. I wanted to wake up, and found that I couldn’t get past the barrier of dreams.

The Pak’Ma’Ra continued to fondle her victim’s body, until he finally screamed in desperation. It was a blood-curdling scream of a man on the edge of sanity. "CAPTAIN! MATTHEW! GIDEON! EF! EXCALIBUR! SERIAL! #..."

Finally, after waking up, I paced my quarters, trying to rationalize my dreams. My inner self had put everything together, and had presented it to me neatly, saying, "Here’s the PROBLEM!" I looked in the mirror and I realized that every time Gideon saw me – he wanted to throw his guts up. He feared me, even though I was completely innocent in all of this, pristine, pure as the driven snow. Good God, Gideon! CONSENSUAL! CONSENSUAL, an AGREEMENT between two consenting ADULTS. Was that why you tried to hit me in the conference room? The damaged man within you had thought that I’d throw you on the table and teach you respect?

The thought made my skin crawl. Gideon, pain in the ass that he was, and I had at last reached the point of a grudging mutual appreciation society. I had admitted to myself that I liked him, even if he was annoying, and I knew that he respected what I could do. Our bickering was mainly a show, just to let the other man know that we weren’t pushovers. But now that hard earned trust between us just got bombed back to the Stone Age, wasn’t it?

Did you think that I enjoyed what happened didn’t you Gideon? You thought that when you lay on the exam table and wept hard, believing that secretly that I was getting my jollies from your abused body. Did you wake up in the middle of the night, terrified that I had kept a copy of the negatives? Was it in the back of your mind during those times your XO was seducing you; that I was probably looking at those pictures of you, jerking off and savoring each one of them? How the hell can I convince you that I was appalled, revolted and repelled with what happened to you? NEVER, do I condone rape.

Gideon, damn it, you are afraid of me, and I don’t know what the hell to do. Maybe if I tried harder to be pleasant to you... that’s it! That’ll work, after all it had worked superbly well these last few months! Max, my boy, give him your best smile and watch it as it eats at him, while Gideon thinks that you are mocking his emotional anguish. Count the minutes before he has to leave... down to eight minutes last time.

I should really be enjoying this, that I, a mere linguist, have such power over a high and mighty Starship Captain, but I can't enjoy it anymore, not when I know why Gideon is afraid of me. For some, ignorance really is bliss. He's been pissed at me in the past while I pulled off all those stunts with IPX and he’s even threatened me a few times. Ok, he threatened me with being spaced on more than a few times. Occasionally, Matthew had even drunk a few beers with me, but now Captain Courageous just chokes at the sight of me.

I really didn't consider how hard this would be on all of us. I really thought he would calm down, just simply recover from all this, and get rapidly back to his normal abrasive, obnoxious self. Matt hasn't, mentally, I know. I mean physically, he's starting to look pretty healthy for a man who had been crucified.

Apparently, John Matheson had gotten past your shattered defenses and shell-shocked demeanor, and you two were lovers. Amazing, I wonder how he had done it? Did you just decide deep in your heart that you had to able to trust that one single person or else you’d go mad? Or did you break down late one night, reliving horror after horror and he had been there to put you back together again, not with glue, but with soft words and tentative touches? Did you beg that only person in the entire universe that you trusted, not to hurt you?

Or did you lose it with him also? One day did you start raging at him and you just couldn’t stop? Did Matheson take your angry outbursts and your abusive tirades calmly until he couldn’t take the pain anymore? Did it suddenly hit you, late one night, that you were destroying the one person that your crew was depending on keeping you sane and functioning?

How had John done it?

So many years ago, I had found that feral and wild kitten while on a site, and I remembered how it had clawed and scratched when I had first held him. He had been so frightened of me that I had immediately released him. The damn thing had fled quickly from me, and I decided that I would tame that crazy cat if it were the last thing I did. Simple things like leaving food out here and there on the excavation site had that cat appearing at all sorts of hours to scarf down the food and run like hell. Damn thing was too damn proud for its own good, and it was a survivor, just like Gideon was. But in time, he’d show up to see what was for dinner, eat it, then bolt, without even a murmur of thanks. I can still remember how excited I had been when that Damn Cat decided to visit me in my tent for a social call.

It had been cold that night, so I had gallantly offered him an old sweater to sleep on, and instead the cursed thing decided that my pillow was a nice place to rest. "Oh? Are you planning on sleeping here, too?" There was the look of disdain that he had given me, was the exact same one that Gideon use to give me whenever we disagreed.

Lord, I loved that cat. He was a terror with just about everyone, except for Cynthia, and I delighted in his ferocity. He was a scrappy cat, and a fighter, and I had stitched the damn thing more times that I cared to remember.

Damn it, Matthew! I can’t feed you Tender Vittles and hope that you’ll decided to snuggle up on my cot because the weather’s cold. Nor can I tempt you with catnip as John might complain if you curl up in my lap and start purring while I scratched your... belly. What else can I do, as cat toys weren’t going to work? Dureena had once remarked that there wasn’t a great deal of difference between a starship captain and a rat, and you hadn’t been amused. But, I knew that there was a great difference between a starship Captain and a cat, so what worked with Mr. Kitty, wouldn’t work with you.

Try as I might, I could see that there was only one option to keep Gideon sane and happy, so I decided that I would have to take it. It was the only...right thing to do, and I started to laugh. Gideon would never have believed that he’d rub off on me to this extent, now would he? At my age! Developing compassion and a conscience, I guess it was a good thing I was getting off this ship of fools. I better leave this ship quickly or else I might decide to become an ascetic in the Order of St. Gideon, denouncing all universal pleasures.

Max! Quick my boy! Before your principles fail you and you collapse in a catatonic state, due to your terror at being faced with a moral dilemma. It’s been so long since you last used your integrity, that hopefully you could still find them wherever the hell you left them, Max.

Hmmm... If I was my sense of right and wrong, and being a rather still, quiet voice, where the hell would I be?



That wasn’t it. That was my overdeveloped ego.

I was riding the bullet car for hours, trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Sitting by myself, with my legs stretched out, I was hoping that some sort of divine inspiration would hit me while the car raced throughout the ship, ceaselessly on its route. Oh, hello! I’m over HERE and I’m looking for some sort of idea on how to solve this problem!

God, things had been going so well there. I was actually... happy for the first time in so long, until I realized that little thing about Eilerson. Could I have remained unknowing of the truth? Ignorance is BLISS, and I could have really been content, curling up to John Matheson at night while planning his seduction by day. Instead of having this anxiety attack about Eilerson, I could have just been plagued with the problem of how to keep John happy.

Nope. Happiness is not for me, as I’m doomed to a life of never ending pain.

Shit, Max had quit the quest, because of my unreasonable fears, and I wasn’t sure how to prevent him from leaving. I had come dangerously close to hitting Eilerson, and only John Matheson had stopped me. I had been so wound up, that I would have continued mindlessly hitting him until the Marines had pulled me off of him.

Quite frankly, I needed the pain in the ass and his skills desperately. The mouth, I could certainly do without, but I needed him to help us find the damn Cure. I had always known that Eilerson was to be instrumental in helping us find the cure, even without that damn box’s input.

Damn it. What was I going to do now?

The bullet car slowed down, and I heard someone enter the car. Since I had been a billion light years away, my fellow riders had left me alone to my dark thoughts. This person silently sat across from me, and I tried to ignore him. It didn’t work, as he whimsically decided to put the soles of his feet against mine. He began pushing against my feet, trying to get a reaction from me.

The car rumbled to a start, and I continued to stare blankly into space, while my fellow bullet rider continued to jostle my feet. It didn’t work in making me start talking, so finally John decided to speak to me.

"How long have you been riding the car?"

"Minutes, hours, days, I’m not sure." I had woken up and I had found out that Max had quit. Pacing my quarters for several hours, I couldn’t think of what the hell to do about that, so I thought that maybe I’d go ride the bullet car for a few hours. Maybe a random thought would zip by and enter my mind.

Eilerson had quit after I had nearly punched him at a meeting. You couldn’t blame him for leaving the quest, but why did he forfeit his contract? That didn’t make sense, as Max had lost absolutely everything including his retirement plan because he had broken his contract. If he had casually mentioned to the right person that I had tried to knock him out, I’d be arrested, and he’d still be employed. Or if he had remarked to the right person the fact that he thought I was about to crack up, I’d be in Sheila’s office waiting for a psychiatric evaluation with Sheila and the dreaded Archie. Either way, he wouldn’t be facing a multi-million-credit lawsuit from IPX.

Max? What the hell were you thinking by breaking your damn contract? For someone who was always reminding me that he was Goddamn brilliant, that was a pretty asinine thing to do. Were you THAT scared of the dangerously cracked Captain that you decided to get the hell off the ship in any possible way?

We sat together in silence for a few stops, and I realized that the car wasn’t stopping. I gave the younger man a questioning look, and John flashed me a shy smile.

"We’re on privacy mode. How long do you want to ride this thing?"

His voice was nonjudgmental, and I again wondered how the hell I had gotten his undying fealty. No matter how badly I screwed things up, John would never blame me. That amount of trust directed toward me scared me, as I feared that I would fail him, like I had failed Max. Punching Max? Maybe, a soft voice mentally spoke to me, I really was insane. Don’t even start to think that, because if you’re insane, Matt, you could easily drag John Matheson down with you.

"Until I can think of something to somehow convince Eilerson not to leave or the car goes fast enough that I can go back in time to prevent me from having that damn meeting. Think Galen can help with that?" I threw that comment in, hoping I’d get a smile from John from that quip.

None. No point.

John then smiled and made a suggestion. "I can look around. Blackmail might work but maybe..."

"I can’t tell him that I’m sorry for almost hitting him in the mouth at our last meeting, as I was having a flashback."

"Why not?"

The question was simple, but I couldn’t answer it. Why the hell, couldn’t I just say it? Sorry, Max, you scared the shit out of me when you backed me into the corner? That by making your comment about John, I had been overcome by this strong desire to protect him, as for a moment, I thought you were going to hurt him?

The bullet car completed its tour of the ship, and then we were back at the beginning. Zip. Zip. Zip. I was going in circles, physically and mentally, which wasn’t a very reassuring thought. For hours, we rode throughout the ship, and I tried to screw my head back on straight.

"I want my life back." Whine. Whine. WHINE. It was such a damn inane thing to say, but it was true. I wanted my life back, just like it had been before with only the occasional nightmare, no aching bones that protested daily, and no long conversations with my favorite shrink. Then again, if I got my life back, and what happened had never occurred, what would be my relationship with John? Would he still be silently watching and hoping that I’d be his lover? Would I have ever noticed the fact that my XO was in love with me?

"Have you talked to Sheila?" Thankfully, his voice was still non-judgmental, as we both knew that it was the first thing that I should have done.

"No." I knew what his answer to that would be, and I waited for it.

"Why not?"

This time, I had an answer. "She’s going to be so disappointed in me." For a moment, I felt like a little boy who had failed his favorite teacher, and no matter how many flowers I’d pick for her, that there still would be that look of chagrin in her eyes.

"Long time, no chat." That was the closest thing to a reprimand that Sheila Masterson would give me, I hoped. "So, what’s new?"

"Nothing much." Flashing her the Gideon smile, I waited for her to tell me that I was lying.

"Liar, Liar, EF dress pants on Fire." She chanted that at me and I gave her a mock grin. "You haven’t called me in almost a month. That’s a long time for nothing to happen, so what’s new, Matthew?"

"A great deal. Good news or bad news, which would you like first?"

"Let’s touch base on the good news first, then the bad and then we’ll rehash the good news. Wait, I think I know what the goods news is. You’re smiling so that means... you got lucky, didn’t you?" She flashed me a devilish grin, then started to laugh while I blushed.

"Sheila!" Protesting her rude comment, I gave her an embarrassed smile.


"Jealous?" I threw that at her, and I began to laugh.

"And?" Her one word comment implied that I should spill my guts to her about what had occurred.

"I’m not saying a single thing because you being a dirty, lecherous woman would probably be entirely too interested in the infinitesimal details of technique, frequency and skill."

"Good, I can tell that you’re happy with how it worked out. And... John?"

"He seemed pretty pleased with my efforts. In fact, I think he had a religious experience during part of it." Smirking at her, I wanted to hear what her reaction to that was.

Her reaction didn’t disappoint me, as she applauded. No doubt about it, Sheila probably had been a hell raiser of a captain, the type that drove their Executive Officers to drink heavily or to quickly make a career change. "Excellent. What’s the bad news? Wore the poor boy out?"

I stopped smiling, and Sheila lost her smile, turning serious. "That bad, Matthew? Is it the trial? Or what?"

"Eilerson... quit." I waited for her reaction to that comment.

"The linguist? Why? What happened?"

"Because of me... I nearly hit him in a meeting." I couldn’t look at her face when I said that, so I looked at my link instead.

"Why?" She sounded very disappointed in me, so I squirmed in my chair.

"He deserved it?" I hoped that she’d at least laugh at that quip.

"Not a good answer. Why did you try to hit Eilerson?"

Stumbling, I haltingly told her that I had always been uncomfortable with Max since my rescue. Subconsciously, I think that I had remembered his cologne from the exam and that’s why I had been nervous and tense whenever he was nearby. Thinking that it was just a reaction to what happened to me, I hadn’t mentioned it to Sheila. Sheila looked disapprovingly at me, and I sighed. "Come on, after what happened, I was nervous with everyone! It took me almost two months to actually have a conversation with Dureena and Sarah, and John had to be in the room! Max backed me into a corner, and I just... freaked."

"What brought this to the forefront? Is it the trial?"

"I sat next to him, and I suddenly realized that the cologne smelled familiar. Then I had a flashback, and I knew why. Sheila, he took the pictures. THOSE pictures." Gazing at her intently, I tried to put my feelings into words that she’d understand.

"Have you seen them?" I didn’t expect her to ask that question.

"No!" I lived through it, why would I want to see 8X10 color glossies? Or the convenient wallet sizes? Let’s not forget the larger than life ones suitable for hanging on your wall, or on the ceiling, over your bed.

"And?" she prompted me. "From what I’ve seen of them..."

"You saw them?" Oh God, SHEILA had seen them? What was I? EARTH FORCE CAPTAIN OF JULY? And my photos were available in the local 7-11 as long as you proved you were over the age of consent?

"Yes, I viewed them in my professional capacity as your counselor. Matthew, I needed to know exactly what the hell they did to you, as you weren’t exactly forthcoming with the information."

Shit. She was right, and my counselor had managed to smack me on my fanny for not being more cooperative with her.

"Sheila. Eilerson likes PORN. You know, smack me up, tie me up, candle wax being poured on the body, leather clad Master and slave stuff. Those pictures are going to be used as evidence." Couldn’t she see where I was coming from? Actually, she probably could see clearly what my emotional upset was due to but Sheila just wanted me to say what was bothering me.

"And?" My counselor waved her hands, trying to coax me into saying more.

"So, I’m going to have to relive everything, and those pictures are going to be used as exhibits A, B.... Don’t you think that after all I’ve been through that it might be a little too much to expect me to relish the fact that I’m going to look like some sort of porn star? I’m going to have to testify, and there’s no doubt going to be several enlarged pictures of my inner thighs displaying burns marks and human bites. With no Goddamn fig leaf in sight. Some things are already larger than life, and I don’t need it to be blown up sixty-four times. I mean, all sorts of men and women will want to date me then, and I just don’t have the time. There’s a Cure to find! Not to mention that the possible competition would upset John!"

It was a bitter jest, and Sheila knew it.

"Matthew Gideon. Do you trust me enough to listen to me? I’ve listen to you for months, now, and I think it’s time that you had enough faith in me to hear what I have to say."

I looked at her, and I slowly nodded my head, as I did trust her enough to talk to her honestly. Most importantly, I did believe in Captain Sheila Masterson, EF. Retired, enough to listen to her.

"Look, I know you don’t trust anyone as much as you do John, but let me assure you that those pictures are not ever going to be used as exhibits in Porn 101. Maximilian Eilerson may have been a real pain in your ass at times, but he tried to retain as much of your dignity as possible in the situation. As did Zbignewski and Makam."

"I can also assure you that having known O’Neill for as long as I have, I know that the old dog went above and beyond what anyone else would have done, to make sure that you came out of that exam with some sort of self-respect intact. Tom’s been in EF long enough to know exactly where those pictures are going to be shown, and who’s going to see them. They are graphic pictures, there is no doubt about it, but I don’t think anyone is going to get aroused by them. Sickened, disgusted, and horrified, maybe, but I don’t think that you’ll be starting a new career as a porn star."

"Oh God, I do so hope you’re right." My voice was a pitiful plea that disgusted me. MATTHEW - YOU ARE A STARSHIP CAPTAIN, TIME TO START ACTING ACCORDING, MATTHEW!

"Though no doubt, the pay’s better than being in EF." She quipped that at me. "What are you going to do about Max?"

"I don’t know."

"You don’t know?" She shook her head. "Well you better come up with something, quick or else you’ve lost the boy wonder."

"I don’t." I answered that firmly.

"So, you let this feeling of unease fester and grow inside of you, until you decided to clobber Max. What a truly macho thing to do. Matthew, after all this time together, don’t you think that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea on how to handle this?" There! Politely, she had managed to thwack me upside the head. TWICE! In one session!

"Well... yes, I figured that out right after I nearly hit him and I didn’t even have to call you!" I joked with her, while her eyes narrowed. Sheila, while understanding of my whimsy, sometimes didn’t like it when I used my sense of humor to avoid certain issues.

"So what should have done when you first noticed that you were having ... difficulties with Max?" Prompting me with that question, Sheila was looking particularly fierce.

"I ... should have called you?"

"Dear Gods and Goddesses above and below, Matthew Gideon, EF Captain actually came to that realization and I didn’t have to prod him into saying it!" Sheila was being very acidic with me; and I knew I deserved it. That’s what I liked about my counselor, as she was patient with me, but she was also not opposed to giving me a good smack when she thought I deserved it. Though right now my head was ringing as she had smacked me three times. Once on the right, once on the left side of my head and the last one was right between the eyes. And my ass was still sore.

"Don’t get fresh, Sheila." Growling that at her made me feel better even though I realized I shouldn’t be talking to her like this. She was the main reason that I was functioning right now, albeit, a little shakily. Without her, I’d be facing a rubber room, cold soaks, plastic spoon utensils and shock therapy.

"These sessions are for one reason only..."

Reminding me like I was a child, who didn’t know what these sessions were for, annoyed me. "To get me back in the damn command chair."

"Matt! As I was saying before you rudely interrupted me, these sessions are to try and get you talking again. Not that you ever really talked to anyone before everything happened, which is probably why you are having such a hard time. You never allowed yourself to have a support structure, as you were always the CAPTAIN, infallible, wise, all-knowing.... What’s the problem? How do you know that Eilerson likes porn? Did you two bond one day over it?"

"He gave me a data crystal with a report on it. At the end of it, was this little segment of assorted porn. Snow White and the Seven Narns..."

"A real classic, I’ve heard." She quipped that at me.

"Anyway... there were a few others."

Picking up my feelings on this subject, she suddenly questioned me. "And your feelings on this?"

"Originally I thought it was funny. He’s so Goddamn repressed." That was a lifetime ago, and I rued the death of that Matthew Gideon. Now, this older, sadder Matthew Gideon found the entire thing... distasteful.

"Could have fooled me."

"Anyway, I used his little extra curricular activities to my advantage. Whenever I needed him to do something without a whole lot of lip, I’d take the crystal and play with it. Max would turn this interesting shade of purple, and he’d agree to play nicely."

"You’re evil, Gideon. I notice that you’re using the past tense on this. You’re not blackmailing him anymore?"

"No. The thought of it turns my stomach. There was one called "Who's My Little Pak'Ma'Ra? And in it, a Pak’Ma’Ra uses his tentacles..." I really didn’t want to mention this particular scene to Sheila, so I was hoping that she knew about it so I wouldn’t have to explain it.

"Sensory organs." She prompted me. "And...?"

"To... pleasure a restrained human female. It’s rather unbelievable, as they were all pulsating like this." I wiggled my fingers at her, trying to demonstrate how those damn things had been squirming like they had minds of their own, and how the female had been writhing in unbelievable passion. "Sarah and I laughed about it, as it just wasn’t anatomically possible."

"Might be." She quipped.

"I use to find it funny, but after what happened, especially... regarding my little... experience with Brigid and her gang of four, I’m not laughing. I can’t help but think of BDS&M whenever I look at him. It really makes... me uncomfortable."

"And you internalized it, letting it fester and gnaw at you until your subconscious thought that only way to handle this was to punch Max out. In a staff meeting, MATTHEW!"

WHAP! FIFTH blow and right to the gut. Sheila, you are amazing quick on your feet, considering that you’re confined to a wheelchair.

"OK. We’re obviously going to need to work on your problem with Max. The first thing is how the hell are you going to keep him on the ship? He is part of your current problem, and if Max isn’t on the ship, then we won’t be able to work on it as effectively. So, how do you think that you’re going to keep him on the ship, even after the trial?"

"I rode around on the bullet car, for several hours, and this was the only idea I came up with. It’s not going to work if he actually calls my bluff." Then I told her, and she laughed in delight.

"Speaking frankly, I’m glad I’m on Mars as he’s going to be absolutely furious that you’ve managed to outmaneuver him. You are an evil man, Matthew Gideon. EF OK’d this?"

"Wholeheartedly!" Well, not really. EF hadn’t been amused at all.

"And IPX’s reaction?" I hadn’t fooled her with my lies about EF; it was obvious from the look she gave me. Stop being so Goddamn perceptive, Sheila. Let me have a few things that I can hide from you.

"I haven’t gotten that far, yet." They were going to be really pissed and no doubt I’d have to grovel.

She laughed merrily for a bit, and then she suddenly stopped. "So, what else are you hiding in your soul? What dark thoughts are you letting fester and gnaw at you?"


"Having problems with your Technomage? Thief? Doctor?" My quick answer didn’t fool her one damn bit.

"No. No and no." Nope, that wasn’t what was bothering me.

"How about your ex-lover running security on the trial?" Sheila gave me a wintry smile when she said that.

SCORE! Direct blow to my psyche. "How do you KNOW?" Damn it! I hadn’t even mentioned that to John, as I had only found that out an hour ago. Elizabeth Lochley! We hadn’t talked since we had had argued on B5 so long ago. She had attempted to contact me while I was planet side, but I had ignored her messages, and I still continued to do so. Maybe that last one was about her doing security on Mars, but I hadn’t wanted to open up that can of worms.

"Matthew... Matthew... Matthew.... What the hell am I going to do with you? Of course, I know she’s running the security for the trial. You never looked at my service records, did you? I thought you would."

"No." I had never wanted to, as I hadn’t desired to know what had caused her vibrant personality to be placed in a wheelchair. It was more than enough for me to know that she had worn Captain’s bars and that she had commanded a destroyer until an "Incident" had occurred, placing her into a wheelchair.

"Kali Makam was on my first ship when I was just out of the Academy. There was also a certain NCO by the name of O’Neill that you might have met. She’s the one that suggested that I be brought in for your case, as most of the psyche guys in EF thought that you having a female counselor weren’t the greatest idea. She argued passionately that I’d probably be the only one you’d talk to, as the other shrinks are all civilians or military career who’ve never sat in the big chair. Civilians don’t understand, Matthew, they can’t understand what wearing Captain’s bars does to someone."

Makam? Was her finger in every pie? At this rate, I’d owe that damn woman my soul.

"Don’t give me that face, Matt! There are many different faces of the Hindu goddess Devi, don’t forget. Durga, the warrior Goddess who slew the demon while the male Gods trembled in fear and hid behind the sofa. Kali, whom I’m sure you’re rather familiar with, and Tara who is the Goddess that protects. And if you think about it, Jaganmata, is a good example of a Goddess who’d make an excellent Starship captain."

"Aren’t we getting into heresy here?"

"Why? Jaganmata runs about and destroys evil. Trust me on this, the old Lady is busy raising hell right now, rooting out trouble in the cosmos."

"Should I even ask?"

[HELL NO!] That was the thought that was coming through loud and clear.

"She’s not happy with the security precautions. Ivo Lee... remember him?"

How could I forget the veteran Captain who had calmly agreed to pepper spray 300 EF personnel rioting in a bar fight? Ivo was old school, the type of Captain that probably made his crew do physical exercises in the hallways if they pissed him off. No doubt all of his crews had been in tip-top shape as he had a notoriously short fuse.

"Well, the two of them are retired now, and rather vocal about certain things. EF rather stupidly put them on a committee or two, thinking that they’d stay out of trouble that way. I’m sure there are several generals that are bitterly regretting that decision right now."

I had a headache coming on and I hoped that the upper echelon in EF was blessed with a permanent migraine because of that dangerous duo. It would serve HQ right to be saddled with Lee and Makam for the next two hundred and fifty years. "What did the two of them do?"

"Told EF that Lochley was a lousy choice to do security for the trial. Something about doomsday cultists on Mars, and a bar fight of such magnitude that it’s turned into a galactic legend?" Quirking her eyebrow at me, she obviously wanted more juicy details on the bar fight of the galaxy. "Three hundred and fifty three Earth Force soldiers having a bar fight? That’s not a bar fight that’s a Goddamn riot, Matt! What exactly happened on Babylon 5?"

Rubbing my headache, I could just imagine how Elizabeth had taken that comment. No doubt she was taking it personally, and probably blaming yours truly. That’s probably what her messages were about! "And?" There had to be more, as Sheila was still smirking at me.

"EF listened to their comments, and made a few changes on the security front. Lochley’s still running things, but... she’s... been... shown the necessity of checking in with HQ on every little thing she does. So, how do you feel about seeing Elizabeth again?" Giving me a bright smile, she waited for me to answer.

"I... think... that... I’d rather face Eilerson."

After talking to Sheila for several hours, I felt somewhat better. Now I had to go face my rather upset linguist. I didn’t have the time or the diplomacy to handle his battered ego properly, nor did I have the patience that a thorough ass kissing would require of me. So, I decided to follow through on my rather whimsical solution to his problem. I hadn’t even told John what I was planning on doing, that way Eilerson couldn’t get angry with John.

Max had been busy packing up everything he owned on the ship, and he had shipped just about everything to Mars, judging by the tonnage. He had removed his EF communication device, as he was no longer part of the staff, which made it difficult to track him down. It took several days to do so, but I finally caught him going into his quarters.

"Mr. Eilerson!" I pretended that I was calm, cool and collected. "I need to speak with you."

"Are you going to promise not to swing at me? Or should I get Security?" Max commented dryly.

I just smiled at him, while inwardly I was in knots. You couldn’t make this easy for me, could you, Eilerson? No... Matthew, REMEMBER! Eilerson taking it easy on you was what had gotten you so uptight that you tried to hit him. Maybe it was a good sign that Max was back to being waspish and acidic, as he had decided that I didn’t need to be handled with kid gloves anymore. Or... maybe he was so Goddamn furious at me, that he wanted to push all my buttons, just to see how I’d react. Would I swing? Or would I crack up?

Didn’t need that last thought, not when I was about to talk to him.

"Mr. Eilerson, I feel I need to speak to you about your recent resignation. Your quarters, sir?"

"I guess, but I’m going to keep a big stick nearby. Just in case."

Entering his quarters, I noticed that most of the furniture was gone, and that Max wasn’t wearing anything with the IPX logo. Looking around in amazement, my quick surveillance of the room didn’t go unnoticed by Max.

"It’s a new decorating scheme, I’m trying out. Do you like it?" His voice dripped with sarcasm.

"It’s rather sparse." Max was in one of his moods, so I was throwing it back at him, as that was what the old Matthew would have done.

"I call it lack of funds." His tone was bitter, and he sighed softly.

"Mr. Eilerson, I understand that you have resigned from IPX due to our recent problem. Unfortunately, I have to remind you of EF code 0134 section 94a-B paragraph 6." Eilerson suddenly looked rather ill, and I realized that my linguist was bit of a space lawyer. I continued on, trying not to gloat. "It states that when the EF is in a declared state of war or other emergency..."

The light dawned in his blue eyes, and he really didn’t look happy. "Don’t quote the damn code at me. Spit it out."

"Mr. Eilerson, it’s my pleasure to tell you that you have just been drafted by Earth Force to serve as Xeno-Archeologist and Linguist aboard the EF Excalibur."

I wasn’t exactly sure what his reaction to that little bit of news would be, but I wasn’t expecting him to mumble something about how he should have tried catnip first.


"Gideon, you’re a bastard, and so are all your relatives back to whatever monkey decided to get the hell out of the tree, do you know that?" Max sat down in the lone chair in his living room, and he started to... laugh?

"Mr. Eilerson, EF frowns upon junior officers cursing at their CO’s, especially when dealing with issues of parentage." I reminded him dryly.

"Captain Gideon, Sir? May I have permission to ask what rank I’ll be? I hope it’s something matching my status, like Captain, Major or General. FLEET ADMIRAL EILERSON! Won’t my parents be proud?"

"No, it won’t be. It’ll probably be something like Ensign." I snapped that at him, and I had to laugh at the look of disgust on his face. "The paperwork has been filed and it might take a while for them to figure out where to place you. You might even be a corporal, or a crewmember for all I know, and for all I care. I’ll have the Drill Instructors stop by to give a training schedule. You need to get in shape, Max." I threw that at him, just so it would piss him off. I certainly didn’t want him looking up that code number I had so glibly given him.

"Ensign? Crewmember Eilerson? All this education, and I end up a bloody ensign or less than that. Now my serious question is... WHY?"

"Why? I’ll answer that question the day you can tell me ... WHY."

"Why the universe was created?" Max laughed. "I’ll ask one of the First Ones next time they stop by for tea. Hope you’re not in a hurry for an answer."

"No, why the hell did you quit the way you did? IPX is suing you for millions of credits for breach of contract, so why did you? There were a few others way of breaking your contract and certainly IPX wouldn’t be suing you. So... why?" I threw that question at him.

"Why not?" He volleyed it right back at me.

"That’s not an answer, Crewman Eilerson."

"It is if you’re a Vorlon."

Gideon had pulled a fast one that I hadn’t been expecting. I had figured that he would be so damn glad to get rid of what I symbolized, and me that he would have danced a jig on the bridge. With XO Matheson, of course. Hmmm... wonder who would have led in that dance?

No. Instead, I had the sinking feeling that in my immediate future was boot camp with a Goddamn Drill Instructor. I can hear the cadence right now.

You’re so smart and you’re so smug
Gideon’s gonna squash you like a bug.
He’s got your balls good and well.
Now your life’s a living hell.

Shit. Now I was in EF, as the oldest Ensign in recorded history, no doubt. It would match his sense of whimsy to have me made an Ensign, as I’d have to obey EVERY damn thing he said, without fail. GOD HELP ME! But why had he done so? I don’t think that the prospect of ordering me to scrub his office out on my hands and knees was enough incentive for Gideon to keep me. WHY, GIDEON? Then he had thrown that question back in my face, refusing to answer my question, until I answered his.

I could just imagine Gideon’s expression when I told him that I had quit because I was too damn old to de-worm a cat again. A laugh had threatened to break out, as I imagined throwing Gideon on a table and de-worming him. But the laugh died when I realized how overtly sexual that notion was.

Walking back to my quarters, I felt light-hearted for the first time in a few days. Eilerson had fallen for that charade, hook, line and sinker as EF hadn’t officially responded on my request to draft Eilerson just yet. No doubt, some paper pusher in HQ was sitting at her desk, shaking her head, plainly thinking that the CO of the Excalibur was crazy.

I was, as I had already called IPX to have them stop the lawsuit against Max. It had been mortifying to admit to Max’s supervisor that I was the reason why Max was leaving, as I had provoked him into doing so.

"Eilerson is difficult to deal with." She had sniffed. "You’re not the first one to complain about him."

"I pushed him too far. When he calms down, he’ll realize that he shouldn’t have tried to break the contract. I was rather rough on him." God, that burned, having to admit that to her. "So, how about not acting on his resignation, just yet? Give him a month or so to calm down? Lose the paperwork for a while?"

I was on hold for sometime with IPX while the higher members of the food chain decided what to do.

"OK. We’ll give him a month." Suzie Q wasn’t happy with that, but apparently the upper echelon knew what a good thing they had with Max onboard the ship.

Entering my quarters, I sniffed something in the air. John was already there, cooking dinner. We took turns cooking dinner on our 'dates’, and tonight, it was his turn. It gave us both a chance to unwind from our day, plus we had the chance for some privacy. John’s tastes ran to the fiery and exotic, while I cooked a mean omelet. Walking to the kitchen, I grinned at him. "Eilerson’s staying. But I think he’s on the line with his lawyers right now."

"What did you do?" John could tell I was amused but he kept stirring whatever he was making.

"Nothing." Walking up behind him, I hugged him carefully so he could still keep an eye on dinner. Nuzzling his neck for a moment, I felt him lean into my embrace.

"Nothing? I don’t ever believe you when you say you’ve done nothing. What did you do, Matthew?"

"What’s for dinner? It smells delicious." I began kissing the side of his neck, trying to distract him from that question he wanted answered.

"It’s something my dad use to make when I was a kid. Matthew, you going to get me distracted, and then dinner’s going to be ruined." John began to laugh. "God! I sound like my father. I can barely remember how since he did all the cooking in the house how he’d get pissed when my mom was late."

I switched off the burner with one hand, and I began rubbing his chest with the other. "Can’t you reheat it? I’ve just realized that I’ve been neglecting you dreadfully for the past few weeks. We haven’t made love in a such a long time." Deliberately, I slid my hand down his pants, and I laughed as I found him responding rapidly.

"A long time? It was last night, as I seem to remember. Repeatedly."

"And you’re a young man who has a rather healthy appetite that needs to be satisfied repeatedly."

"Repeatedly?" His voice was very soft and I found myself grinning like a fool.

"Over and over again, or else you might start looking elsewhere. So, I need to make sure that I take my time, and that you’re completely... nourished."

Several hours later, we were eating dinner. John was eating his dinner cold while I had insisted on re-heating mine. "John. You can’t eat that stuff cold!"

"Why not? Pass the hot sauce, Matt. Besides, I could have eaten it warm except for the fact that you were feeling frisky. You always like to play after you’ve talked to Sheila." His tone was playfully chiding me on my supposed crush on Sheila Masterson. John accused me of that one night, after I had made a comment about Kritika and him. It was a running joke between us, as both of us knew the truth.

"Jealous?" I asked dryly.

"In a way, yes." John looked embarrassed when he admitted that, so he just continued to sprinkle on more hot sauce on his dinner.

Whoa! This was something new, and I decided that I better talk to him about it now, before it blew out of proportion. See, Sheila, I did listen! COMMUNICATION! Oops, I better not think about Sheila right now, as John might pick that thought up. "John. You know that there’s nothing going on between us."

"You talk to her, openly and honestly about what you’re feeling, which you don’t always do with me. Obviously, you think you need to protect me, as you don’t think you can talk to me like you can her. So, yes, I am jealous that she knows a part of you, that you can’t... or... won’t share with me."

"I don’t want to upset you." In spite of our best efforts, neither one of us was relaxing into this relationship of ours. I kept trying to make sure John was happy with everything we did together, and John endeavored to treat me with kid gloves. I hated when he did it, as I felt like I wasn’t healing rapidly enough for him, and I feared that he’d grow bored with coddling me. Then I’d work ever harder, willingly neglecting my part in our relationship, just to be positive that John was happy. If he grew tired of having to pamper me, he’d want out of relationship, and I... secretly, couldn’t have dealt with that.

Sheila kept warning me that I was leaning too heavily on John, and I ignored her. He was my sanity during this, and I needed him. I didn’t understand what her concern was about, as I loved John, so why shouldn’t I focus on his enjoyment in our relationship?

"I’m not a child." He growled that at me.

"No, I just had several forceful reminders that you’re a fully functioning adult male, ok?" I was surprised that John was still innocent enough to blush at that comment, but inwardly I was delighted that I hadn’t corrupted him too badly. "But I just don’t want to share everything I’ve been through, as I’ve given you enough pain."

He shook his head in tired disbelief. "So, what are we doing now?"

"We’re going to Mars, and we’re going to testify at a nice, quiet criminal trial. John... Elizabeth’s...." Better mention to him now, that my ex-lover’s doing security, and that I hadn’t mentioned anything to her about my new partner.

Hello, Elizabeth, I’d like to introduce to John, he and I have shacked up together. Don’t be pissed, Liz, those long nights at the conference table naturally led to this... One day we were casually discussing the Minbari and suddenly I found myself, naked, on top of the conference table, with John Matheson underneath me while we were firing our main guns wildly. Oh yeah, I could just see myself telling her that.

"Doing security. I've known that for some time." His voice was amused, as though he thought it was funny. John had a puckish sense of humor, so no doubt he thought it was hysterically amusing that he'd have a chance to see me squirm.

"Does everybody KNOW except for me?" What the hell did they do? Put it on ISN?

"Probably. You're going to have to talk to her, Matthew."

"At this rate, I'm going to be booking appointments until 3010."

{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}