The Education of John Matheson:
Post Doctorate - Labor

by Mistress Sarah

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

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

John woke up in agony, and I was worried. It was a sharp knifing pain, right across the abdomen, and I felt our kids’ kick hard in response.  They were afraid, and I tried to reassure them that everything was all right. It was, wasn’t it?

John? I ‘pathed.

“Where’s the scanner?”

Shit. He sounded nervous.

Night table. JOHN? It’s too early.

“Might be Braxton-Hicks. Let’s see what it says.”

I felt him trying to calm the babies down, and they quickly dropped off to sleep until the next stabbing pain hit. Then they rocketed off John’s ribcage, and landed on his spine. Reaching for the scanner, the two of us waited anxiously for the report.  False labor. Thank GOD. John was slightly over 32 weeks, and it was too early for the kids to want to be born.

Damn, I hated being limited in what I can do for you.

[You’re here for me. Oh GOD.]  John writhed in pain, and he began to pant. [God, this hurts.]

I’m here, I’m here.

Four hours of mentally holding John while he gasped in pain every few minutes and I knew that John really needed to see Sarah.  Soothing him and the children, I waited until the contractions had apparently stopped.

John????  I sent that carefully, knowing that he’d immediately get annoyed with what I was going to suggest.

“Not calling Sarah just yet.”

John was paranoid that somehow, someone would discover the fact that he had a passenger in his mind, and that they’d think that I was a split personality.  Telepaths and Telekinetics had a higher percentage of breakdowns than the normal population, and John was terrified that someone would take our children away from him. It would be for their own good, they’d claim, because John’s mental instability would adversely affect them.

ALLEGED… mental instability. John wasn’t insane, I kept assuring him.

For some reason, I could sense that John was really terrified of … SARAH.  She knew him better than anyone else did, with the exception of me, and he was terrified that she’d take the children from him.  That thought made me nervous as what I did in the few times that I was gone from John, was that I’d visit Sarah, plant a few thoughts in her mind about how she really needed to find John, and then I’d come back home. John was really nervous about Sarah, and I suddenly thought of those damn guns that he had everywhere, the same ones that he kept insisting on practicing every single day. No, John. Don’t think that about Sarah. She wouldn’t take them from you.

Ok. I kissed him on the back of his neck, and I began to massage his back mentally.  Think you can get back to sleep?


Good. I sent that to him softly, and I began concentrating on John falling asleep. It would be a long, deep, dreamless, peaceful sleep, where his tense muscles would relax, and he’d wake up charged for another day of impending parenthood. I kept repeating that litany over and over again, and I felt John began to fall asleep underneath my hypnosis.  Repeating it softly, over and over, I managed to get John into a deep sleep.  Now the tough part -  talking to the kids.

Hi guys! I sent that softly.

There was a mumble-jumble of sound that made me smile, as I thought that they  were acknowledging me.  Focusing tightly on them, I gave them as much love and reassurance as I could, and they sent me back baby thoughts of love and contentment.  They really adored John, and they were … “fond” of the other voice too. Humming a lullaby softly, I put them all to sleep.  Let poor Papa John get some sleep, I kept thinking to them, you’re exhausting him.

When I was done, I mentally kissed John on his forehead.  I had discovered this ability to tranquilize my growing family came in handy at times, so I used it whenever the babies were upset and John was about to collapse from exhaustion. That way all of them got some sleep, and I could enjoy the chance to hear them slumbering. It also gave me my only chance to openly admire the changes that John was going through.  It embarrassed him greatly when I wanted him to stand in front of a mirror, so I could truly see him, so I had stopped asking, instead just gently hinting at John that he should not to be so self-conscious. It was a miracle, what was happening in him, and why should he be so ashamed that his body was changing?  So now, usually when I put our family to sleep, I would stand in front of the mirror and caress his body. The curve of his belly, the swelling of his breasts, how could he not find that amazing? It represented… LIFE.


I think John knew that I sometimes took a walk with his body while his soul slept, but he didn’t seem to have minded except for a comment about his sunburn one-day. John certainly didn’t seem to mind when I borrowed his hands to caress him or give him a hand job. It was enjoyable, using John’s body, as it gave me a chance to truly understand what he was going through. The rambunctious children-to-be playing havoc on your rib cage with their kicking, and how sensitive parts of your body were to the occasional gentle touch. I enjoyed going on the back porch and lounging for a bit, and feeling the sun and the wind on our mutual body.

This was heaven, sitting with my... our feet up, talking with John, drinking ice tea and enjoying the feel of wind on my... our body.

Ah, enough day dreaming, I had to get back to business.

John was still walking that tight rope of his, and I still didn’t know what the hell to do.  It would take me days to reassure him after he had a recurring nightmare of Sarah taking the kids from him or he’d suddenly hit a deep depression in which he wouldn’t shave or do anything, except stare into space and stroke his belly.  He was letting his beard grow, as he was tiring easily lately, and saved his energy for the more important jobs like assembling those damn cribs with their damn instructions in Centauri.

I didn’t want to tell John, but I had the feeling that maybe getting the third crib had been a really good idea.   He was tense enough at the thought of twins, and I thought that telling him that I was sensing another voice or two, might really make John crazy.

Shit! Don’t use that word, Matt; John’s not crazy, just wounded in his soul right now.

Now. Off to find Sarah. AGAIN! Where the HELL was she? I had done everything except give her a road map the last time and I feared that I was being too obvious. While it would have been so much easier just to drop “Tempus XII, sector 99.8, 37’07” degrees by 42’ 00” degrees in her mind, I thought that she’d just wouldn’t accept it. Instead I had dropped the idea of talking to Katerina Sashi deep in her subconscious. I had gently inserted a few stray thoughts in Sarah’s mind such as how much Kat liked John. Kat would protect John. Kit-Kat would need to be approached carefully. HAVE SINYA THERE.  Sinya would be Sarah’s best ally in convincing Kit-Kat to tell Sarah where John went.  One or the other would probably have a damn good idea where John was located.

I couldn’t use John’s body to contact Sarah, as John would know, and he’d freak out. Not to mention that Sarah probably wouldn’t take it very well that a dead Matt Gideon was speaking to her.

Hi, Sarah! It’s Matt. I’m borrowing John’s body right now, so could you come visit him? Oh, by the way, you can probably see that John’s really knocked up.  God! That wouldn’t work!

Closing my eyes, I quickly went to the Twilight Land after sending John a strong thought of how much I loved him, so he’d wake up with that thought in his mind.  I didn’t like going back there, as whenever I did, I noticed that it was getting darker. There were less and less stars in the sky, and I wondered if that meant that I didn’t have that much time left to finish my final mission.

Half the stars were gone, and I suddenly felt a chill.  How much REAL time did Twilight time correlate to? [SARAH!] I thought loudly, and suddenly, I was somewhere else.

It seemed like a simple plan that popped in my mind one day, to go find John’s old ship, talk to his former XO, get the information, say thank you and leave.  Perhaps you might have heard that old Scottish quote. ‘Best laid plans of Docs and Mage…” I was in Galen’s ship, and we were not having a good time.  Sashi had refused to let us board her ship, and Galen had decided to board anyway.  That would have been a mistake, having Galen unattended on an EF ship, so I had insisted that I come along with him.

Sashi met us with PPG toting guards, and she was furious.

“I believe this is where I assure you that we come in peace, and I ask you to take us to your leader.”  Grinning, Galen seemed surprised when several of the PPG rifles aimed directly for his heart.

“I don’t remember giving you permission to come on board,” she snapped. Sash was a tall woman who looked like she wanted to drop the rifle, and just punch Galen.   Nice to know that Galen had that affect on EVERYONE he met. Must be the smug attitude of his. Galen was about to say something, no doubt something that would make the situation worse, and I hit him hard, in an implant near and dear to his heart.  I hoped that I cracked the damn thing as I think I broke my goddamn elbow.

“SARAH!” His voice was shocked, and I turned to face Katerina.

“Sash. We’re worried about John. Can you and I speak in private? Please? Galen was kind enough to give me a ride, and he’s LEAVING now. When we’re done talking, he’ll stop by and pick me up, and then we’ll be gone.”

“Well. I never!” Galen was in a huff, and he suddenly disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

“Does he get more and more dramatic as he gets older, or is it me?” Sashi said dryly.

“It’s a male thing. Even Technomages are prone to PMS. Permanent Male Syndrome. Maybe Dureena would have been the better choice to ask, but technically she’s still a student.”

“I don’t know where John is.  The Captain ordered me specifically that if you guys showed up looking for him, to tell you that he’d needed time to think, and that he’d call you when he was ready.”

“Can we talk in your office?”  I smiled my most reassuring smile at Sash, which didn’t appear to calm her down one bit.  “I’d love a chance to talk with Dr. Sinya also.”

Sinya, who I had hoped would be my ally in this situation, was plainly on Sashi’s side. Both women were refusing to tell me where John went. I wasn’t sure what to tell them to make them trust me, and I suddenly thought that if I told them that I was worried about John’s mental state that they would NEVER help.

So I took a gamble, in honor of Matthew. After all, it was his fault, indirectly.

“I want to say something, and I hope you won’t laugh at me.” I smiled at them, and both women didn’t bother to falsely assure me that they wouldn’t laugh. Their eyes were like ice, and I suddenly wished Dureena were with me.  “It’s been over five months since John retired.”

Sash nodded.

“About the time that John retired, I felt like… I had a visitation.”

“A visitation?” Sinya asked me.

“Yes. It was like Matthew Gideon decided to prod me into making sure that I kept an eye on John.  It’s not the first time; I’ve had this particular feeling.  Right after the funeral, I felt like Matt was over my shoulder, whispering to John’s friends that we had to lookout on him. John ran back here, and you had promised me that you would keep an eye on him. So I felt secure in the fact that you two would watch him.  But the second time, it was such a strong feeling that I felt something was wrong, so that’s when I contacted you, Sash, and you wouldn’t tell me where John was.”

“Matthew Gideon’s shade visited you, and asked you to keep an eye on John? How’d he look? Chains? See through? Transparent?” Sash was in rare form, but Sin suddenly silenced her with a savage look.

“Keep talking.  What about Gideon? Any more sightings of him?”

Sin’s voice was odd, and she appeared to be playing with a necklace.  Suddenly, I saw that she had three gold rings on the chain, two plain bands and an engagement ring. She was the crux, I suddenly realized, as something I had said had meant something to her. Find out what it was, and I could convince Sinya, then Katerina would follow her.

“It’s silly, but my daughter Jaia swears that she’s seen him a few times.  She had a nightmare the same night that Matt was there in her room, looking in on her.  Jaia’s away at boarding school right now, and she told me that several times that Matt’s popped in while she’s been in bed, just to make sure she’s ok. She even said that he apologized to her for scaring her the first time, but that he needed to speak with her mom.  Jaia promised that she wouldn’t tell me that, but she mentioned it to Max.” I laughed shakily, as the two women were still staring at me. “Matt apparently doesn’t have much experience with dealing with a five-years old. They’ll promise you that they’ll keep a secret and then look for a loophole to spill their guts. Never thought about telling her not to mention anything to her dad.”


“There’s been a few other times, either when I’ve been tired, or half-asleep, that I’ve heard him yelling at me to locate John. I haven’t told anyone about that, except for you two.”

“When the original Bykovsky blew up, my husband died.” Sinya’s voice was controlled.  “Yuri was running down to engineering trying to save the engineers that had been caught when we lost a containment field.  He died instantly.”

“I’m sorry, Sinya.” I whispered that.

“Never mind.” She said sharply, dismissing any consolation for her obvious grief. “What happened was, after he died, I wanted to check out. The ship was a disaster, I lost almost all of my medical staff, and Sash and I were the only senior officers left on the cursed ship.  You know what made me keep fighting, and working 23 hour days until Captain Matheson showed up to save our sorry asses?”

“What?” Softly I asked, not wanting to intrude on her obvious grief. It had been years, and it was apparent that Sinya’s wounds were still deep.

“I felt Yuri screaming at me, to get my ass in gear and to keep fighting.  He was right here, in my mind, cursing and belittling me for wanting to die. So I struggled, and kept fighting.”

We didn’t say anything for a bit, and then Sinya continued.

“Matheson wasn’t the same when he came back here. Really quiet and you could tell that each day it was an unbelievable struggle just to get dressed. There were times that I thought John was hearing someone tell him to keep fighting.  The Captain would be a billion miles away, staring at that ring on his finger, and then he’d shake his head as though someone had threatened to kick his ass.”

“Sounds like Matt.” I admitted.

“I noticed it, too.  Sinya and I had discussed it, and we were worried that John’s personality was splitting.  He was married to Gideon, after all, and John was there when he died.”

“Death visions. I’ve read a few reports on that, how sometimes Telepaths see what happens, and then they can’t handle it.  Sashi and I were worried that was what was going on with John. Sashi, tell her what you told me.”   The diminutive Doctor appeared to be trying to convince Sashi of the necessity of talking to me.

“Gideon was here, on the ship.  John, or the alternative personality, who for the sake of simplicity, we will call MATT, was trying to keep Matheson functioning. He ran the ship and he even did the paperwork.  Whoever it was, tried really hard to make us believe it was John, but he signed a few things as Matthew Gideon.   Matt tried to destroy it, but I found a piece of paper that he had signed as Gideon.  Then he started signing things John Matheson-Gideon, and the handwriting originally didn’t match John’s. He got better at forging it as time passed, or else John was feeling strong enough to muddle through the paperwork.”

“Whose handwriting did it match?”  I asked Sashi, as I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my gut.   “You must have researched it, if you were suspicious.”

“Perfect match. Matthew Gideon’s. ” Sinya and Sashi both said that at the same time.

“Oh my God.”

“Matt ran a few skirmishes while he was here.  John apparently wasn’t up to it, so Matt took over.  His command style is distinctly different that John’s, as is his way of speaking, and I noticed it immediately. He also had a tendency of getting lost on the ship for the first couple of days. Ended up in engineering, claimed he was doing a surprise inspection, and scared the hell out of them.”

“Engineers. They’re the same wherever you go. The minute the Commanding Officer gets in their area they get nervous.”  I quipped which earned a laugh from the two other women. So close, that’s why Matt had sent me on this mission.  Galen would have alienated these women, Dureena wouldn’t have understood how to exploit their strengths to convince themselves to help her, and my dear Max would have pissed them off. I had to still find that one question to ask, which hopefully would explain to me how exactly to use these women’s obvious loyalty to Matheson to help me locate him. “Why didn’t you report this?”

“He was retiring.  If this Matthew personality was able to keep him functioning, then I’m not complaining.  John seemed to get happier as he got closer to retirement.”  Sinya commented to Sashi who nodded her head.

“One day, it was a complete change. He walked onto the bridge, and Matheson was back. He had a half-smile plastered on his face, and John just looked like he finally found something to live for. John was so cheerful, that his face was glowing. The crew was happy, as the Captain was smiling, and he even laughed once.  John claimed he was remembering something that Matthew told him.”

“Anything else odd happen ship wise?” Damn, so close. I was grasping at straws, trying to figure out the change in John.

“Nothing.”  Sashi and Sinya both answered that in unison.

“Missing any… medication?” God, John, you weren’t going to suicide, were you?

“Thinking he might commit hara-kiri? No, the only thing odd was that we lost two medical scanners. They were old ones, and obsolete, but we used them as backups. ”

Scanners? What the hell did John want with SCANNERS?   Why was the phantasm Matthew traveling the cosmos trying to get ME in particular to find John? It just wasn’t because of my bedside manner, I was sure of it. I could get people to talk to me, but there was a sense of urgency in Matt’s sending. As though Matt was racing against a time limit of sorts. Come on, Sarah, THINK. Scanners. Doctors. TIME LIMIT. A desolate John trying desperately to find something to live for and I suddenly remembered the comfortless look in John’s dead eyes when I dashed his hopes that he might be carrying their child.

Smiling.  Laughing. Glowing. HAPPY.

Oh my GOD.

Why didn’t you come to me, John?  Because…  you thought I would think you were crazy, and I’d take the baby away from you. By doing so, I’d taking away what you had decided to live for.

My Dear John, I never would have done that.

NEVER.  All those years ago, I had taken the gift of your virginity, and I had cherished that moment.  I thought we were friends, John. You came to me when your heart was breaking, and I tried to help you, like I had helped you years before.  And now, when it had worked, you feared to come to me for help because you thought I’d knock down your fragile house of cards. John, no.  I suddenly had to wipe tears from eyes.

“Sarah. You looked like you’ve seen a ghost. Matt decide to visit?” Katarina’s tone was tart, but I could feel her concern.

“I’ve really got to find John.  Look, Katerina, I know you promised not to tell me where John is, but…  Sinya? Did you promise?”

“No. He never told me, but I managed to find out where he was heading. I have a few friends that are spacers, and he caught a ride with them after we dropped him off. Recommended them to John, as they weren’t EF approved. He wanted to escape, and I, of all people, can understand why.”

“Where is he?” My voice sounded strange to my ears, as I sounded… frantic.

Sinya looked at Katerina, who proceeded to cover her ears and was giving her the gesture of  “If you tell her, I won’t hear it.”  Katerina then began to hum the bass line to the 1812 Overture.

“Tempus System and I’m thinking you better hurry. Tell that damn Mage to get his ship in gear, as it’s half way across the damn galaxy.”

“I’ve got to get some equipment first, and then we’ll be there.”  I promised both of them.

Sinya looked at me intently. “Sarah, you look nervous. What’s the problem?”

“I’m thinking that I have only a short time to locate him before he needs medical care.” Damn it JOHN! No prenatal care? Are you crazy? Oops, better not say that. Are you afraid of the insurance co-payments?

“What’s the problem?” Sashi looked ready to join me to help out her former CO and Sinya was already volunteering to go with me in case I needed help.

“Can’t say. I might be wrong, but call it a mother’s intuition that John needs me.”

“Galen, I’ve got to go home, quickly, and then we’ve got to get to the Tempus system. Have you heard of it? I never have.”

“I’ll research it.  John’s there?”  Dureena questioned.

“It’s where he was heading. Now, get me home, quickly.”  I turned to see Max staring at me in concern.

“What’s the problem?”

“Let’s talk about it in our quarters, Dureena and Galen need to plot a course.” When we were alone, we began to talk. “I need to pick up some medical equipment.”

“Sarah, you brought everything except for the obstetrician stuff.  You told me that you weren’t planning on delivering a baby, remember?” Max suddenly looked at me, and put his hand against my waist. “You’re not pregnant are you? I’m getting too old for this, dear.”

“Not me.”

“Who’s then?” He grinned at me, and his smile faltered when his mind started churning through the possibilities. “You and Matheson were damn chummy during the funeral arrangements. If I were a suspicious man, I’d say that you were offering your old paramour some sexual comfort. Sarah Chambers Eilerson, did you get John Matheson knocked up?”  My husband was teasing me, and I knew that he thought it an extremely remote possibility.

“Max…” I warned him.

“Did you?” Max was still teasing me, and I figured I had to tell him the truth.

“If he is pregnant, I didn’t do it. Matt did.”

“Oh my God, you’re serious. Matt? How? Second thought, don’t get the diagrams out.”

“Day before Matt’s funeral, I initiated a procedure on John. I didn’t think it worked as the test results came back negative twice.  I did a Pseudo-uterus implantation with embryo. It’s when…”

Max interrupted me.  “I’ve heard of it.  Ok. So he might be having a baby.  I can handle that without my head spinning on my shoulders.  What’s so bad about that? For the last hundred years or so, it’s been possible for men to have a baby with a little help.”

“Not… baby. Try bab-IES.” I stressed the last syllable and Max finally looked startled.

“Sarah Mary Elizabeth Chambers-Eilerson, the love of my life, you stacked the deck, didn’t you?” He groaned when I nodded my head. “Knowing that it had a high rate of failure, you decided to cheat to have a better chance of having at least one successful implantation. Now, how many embryos did you implant in our grieving Telepath, Sarah?” Max’s finger was pointing at me, and he was grinning at me.

I hesitantly smiled which caused Max to lose his smile.  He knew what THAT smile meant.

“Two?  Three?  FOUR?”   His voice went up an octave.  “FIVE? Mother of the UNIVERSE!  You put SIX of them in him? There’s something else you’re not telling me, I can tell by the look in your eyes.”

“With the hormones I gave him…”

“Spit it out, girl. I’m not going to divorce you over this, as I’m too old to get back into the dating pool.  John Matheson on the other hand, may be a little put out with you, if he ends up having sextuplets. I understand that due to your extremely compassionate nature, you possibly went a little overboard in trying to help John do this.”

“There’s a substantial higher percentage of multiple births when they’re used, because the pseudo-egg sometimes… splits, causing a high rate of identical twins, triplets, quads… quints. There’s more…”

“I better sit down for this, else I may have the Big One.  Like in heart attack.”  Max settled into one of the chairs that Galen and Dureena had provided for us in our section of his/her/their ship, and he smiled. “Don’t worry, Sarah, I don’t think John’s having thirty. Besides, he’s smart enough to have medical treatment, though please, don’t be offended if he doesn’t want more of your help.”

“Multiple births usually mean an early delivery, and I don’t think he’s had any prenatal care.”

“That doesn’t sound like John. He wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt their children. WAIT A SECOND, SARAH.” Max spit that out obviously stunned by what I had told him. “We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here, Sarah. You’re not definitely sure that John is pregnant but you want to get your obstetrical stuff handy.  Now… why do you think that John wouldn’t have any prenatal care, if he was pregnant, because you’re not sure that he is?”

“Because I think that somehow Dureena is right.  Matthew Gideon is caught between the physical and spiritual realm, and that he’s been trying to keep John sane.  John won’t go for help, because he’s afraid that Matt is possibly a split personality, and that… if anyone finds out, they’ll take the babies from him. With Telepaths, this type of nonstop self-doubt of his sanity might easily lead to psychosis, especially if John “Saw” Matthew’s death vision.  It could affect John’s mental stability, which would affect the children. There are some people who might be willing to induce an early labor to separate John from the babies, and I don’t think John will be able to handle that.”

“So… that’s it?”  Max asked.

“No. I think John’s afraid that I’ll be the one to separate them…”

Sometimes, I forget that Max is over twenty years older than I am, and I shouldn’t spring these surprises on him.

I couldn’t find her.  She wasn’t at home, she wasn’t with Jaia, and I didn’t like the fact that whenever I was in-between in the land of Twilight that more and more of the stars were missing. Running out of time, that’s what I was, and I needed to get back to John. Hurry, Matt! Hurry! Oh God, John, please, don’t be out there, shooting at targets. It’s not going to come to that if I can get Sarah here.


I blazed into his mind, and I woke him out of a sound sleep.  Sorry! I sent, and I sent him a mental hug.

[Where have you been? I’ve missed you.]  John sent that to me sleepily, his mental voice tired. [They’ve missed you too, right?]  There was a sudden rush of affection, and I was suddenly stunned. Their voices sounded older, and I could tell…

Three. Definitely at least three separate entities were greeting me with strong affection. Oh my GOD, at LEAST three, and I wasn’t sure if I had heard them all.  There was an echo…

John? I was really startled. How long have I been gone?

[Only one week this time, but they’ve been putting on weight and getting bigger. I wish you’d tell me when you were going.]

Any more Braxton Hicks?

[A bunch last night.  Wish you had been here for them, they were scared, and I needed help to console them.]

John… we’ve got to talk.  John, we've got to get Sarah here.

[About baby names. I think we’ve having three babies… if not more.]  John began to laugh, and I could tell he was trying not to laugh too hard for fear of losing bladder control. [I think Sarah really tried to skew the odds in our favor, and she succeeded.]

I’m NEVER gambling with her. REMIND ME!  I chuckled softly, and so did John. Our children were laughing too, apparently content to float about while the two voices laughed in amusement. She doesn’t play fair.

[I have to agree with that.]

Now. John, we’ve really got to talk.  I’m really not sure how much longer I’m going to be here for. If anything happens to me, I want you to call Sarah, immediately. Promise me.

He wouldn’t promise me, so I began to mentally tickle him, which isn’t a nice thing to do with a gravid person.  That led to other things, and we had a lovely time as I slowly and deliberately seduced my pregnant partner.  I finally, under the threat of never having sex with him again, got him to promise that if for any reason I disappeared for more than two hours, he would get in contact with Sarah immediately.

I’m not leaving you again.  I’m staying here, but I really don’t know how much longer I’ll be here.

“I know that. I’ve always known that.”

We need to talk about names.

“We need a few of each, thanks to Sarah.  For the first boy, it’s going to be Matthew.”

I tried to protest, as I wanted JOHN, and John refused to listen to me. “No. It’s Matthew Aaron Matheson-Gideon.”

Aaron was my father’s name.

“I know.”

How about you? Any family names you’d like to use?


Must be one!

“The corps is mother, the corps is father.  I was taken away from my family when I was young. I can remember bits and pieces of them, but that’s all.” John’s hand suddenly tightened protectively around his belly. I tried not to see that John still had an empty gun on the nightstand with a cartridge next to it.  One night, early in his pregnancy, he had woken up because he thought he had heard something. He had loaded the gun while half-asleep, and that level of hyper vigilance made me nervous.

It had taken me teasing him, gently, about the fact that he had rolled over, and landed solidly on his stomach, scaring the hell out of the kids who were finally sleeping, to get John to put the gun down.  His hands had been shaking and I had tasted his fear.  [They’re not going to take this from me. Never.]

He had kept repeating that like a mantra, and that had scared me.

No one’s taking them from you. Trust me.  There I was, repeating myself over and over again, and I wondered if by doing so, I was doing more harm than good.

My lonely Telepath, no wonder you are terrified of everyone being ripped away from you. You must have been a lonely child, frightened to trust anyone because they’d end being taken away from you. Always kept at arm’s length, until you fell in love with a crotchety Star Ship Captain, who had the nerve to die in your arms less than 12 hours after marrying you. It had been a wonderful twelve hours, John, except for the last few minutes, as unintentionally I had greviously wounded your soul.

We need a few more names, but I’ll be honored with young Matthew.  How about girl’s?

“Zoë. It’s Greek for life.”

Like it. Now we’ve got a choice today. Either we stay in bed, or else we get up and walk to the porch. Either location will find us doing nothing more strenuous than making up baby names.  Hate to tell you this, Tiger; you’re putting on a little weight. Maybe the exercise might help.

“We?  WE? WE… nothing, Matt.  You’re just lurking in my mind…” His voice trailed off.  “Getting a free ride.”

If we have more than three girls, we’ll have to name one of them Sarah. I changed the subject quickly.

“More than THREE?” John groaned.  “I wanted one. Was happy with two. But now, I’m terrified of three, and more than that… I’m really concerned.”

Call Sarah. I sent that before I thought.

“NO.” He said that savagely and I began to massage his back.  Physically, it didn’t do much for him, but mentally, I tried to pour as much love as I could into my massage.

I looked at his body in concern. John? Have you lost weight? He had, and he was looking rather haggard.  There were bags under his eyes, and I could see his ribs.  John was tiring even easier lately, and he would spend most of the day lying in bed, cat napping.

“Don’t I wish!”  John said with some asperity.

You’ve been eating while I’ve been gone? You haven’t been, have you?

“Not really. Not hungry. Been drinking a lot of water like I’m suppose to, and taking all sorts of vitamins, but I’m not really hungry.”

I knew that if I didn’t handle John correctly, he’d get pissed off at me because he was worn out.  Trying to be non-judgmental, I hesitantly suggested that perhaps he use the medical scanner to check on himself, rather than the babies?   John wasn’t too concerned about himself, I feared, he just cared about the babies, but come on, John, you were the one housing them!

I swear if I wasn’t dead, John Matheson’s pregnancy was going to kill me. I wanted to be here with him, instead of zipping through the cosmos trying to line up an obstetrician!

It worked, and John scanned himself, and I wasn’t surprised when it turned out that he was significantly underweight, anemic and that he’d probably be giving birth in the next six or so weeks.  Time to start bulking up, John.  You’re almost ten kilos underweight according to that scanner device.


“I’ll call Sarah, so shut up already.”

Tasting his apprehension about what he was doing, I started to tease him again.

No, I thought you might like a really nice, big omelet right about now.

Sarah wasn’t home, which didn’t surprise me.  After all, I had done everything except write her a big note and paste it on Max’s forehead telling her to FIND JOHN. John had left a message, asking her to call him, and then we proceeded to have breakfast.  He really wasn’t hungry, so I commandeered his body, and ate aggressively. Four-egg omelet, cereal, a few slice of toast….

[You’re making me REALLY sick the way you’re eating.] John wailed in the back of my head.

I was on my third piece of wheat toast, and I didn’t care.  Taking my knife, I slathered on some more butter, and I ate it.   Breakfast done, I had desert.  Some nice fruit and John was still complaining.

John. Did you know that most people put ON weight during pregnancy?

[Really? Is that why I can’t wear any of my clothes?]

You’ve lost weight in the last month.  You’re significantly underweight, and that just doesn’t affect you, it affects Zoë, Matthew, Thomas, Sarah Jane, Emily, Rocco, and Amelia… I began rattling off the numerous baby names we had discussed until John capitulated.

[Not naming any child of mine. Rocco.]

Ignoring him, I began to strip in front of his mirror. Look. Really, really look, John. What do you see? When the hell did John’s hair go gray?  There were touches of white in his beard, and John looked … exhausted.

[A knocked up freak.]

The babies are almost on the launching pad. They’ve getting really to drop into position; John and you’re really thin.  No meat on your bones, which means the kids, are going to be underweight, so you’ve got to eat, John. Look at yourself.  Look beyond the belly, and see the fact that you look overtired, and you’re thin as a rail, John.

“You’re right. I just haven’t been that hungry lately. Just tired.”

“Sarah. Play the message again.” That was Dureena, who was looking concerned.

I had played the message repeatedly, and I hated watching it.  John Matheson, graying and exhausted, had left the coordinates of where he was staying. His voice sounded rough, as though he was out of practice using it, and there was a certain way that John phrased things that made me nervous as though he had gotten far too comfortable using thoughts instead of words.  He had taken Matt’s death hard, and I was afraid for him, as his eyes didn’t look quite right. He was wearing a beard, and his hair was long, though John had neatly pulled it back.

“You do it. I’ve got to sort through this stuff he sent me.”  I sounded brusque, but John had specifically sent me an encrypted file for me.  I hoped that Galen and Dureena respected John’s privacy enough to not to break the code but I wasn’t holding my breath.

“Well?” Max mouthed at me.

“Don’t know for sure.” I whispered back.

“Let me know.”

I nodded.

“Sarah… it worked.” John touched the side of his face, and he gave me a tired smile.  “Extremely well.  Kept… records for you.” For a moment, he paused as though looking for a word to use.  “Don’t yell… at me, please. Had reasons. See you soon. Tell the … others. Please.” John suddenly stopped smiling and then he whispered something before the screen went blank.  I couldn’t hear him, so I repeated it numerous times until I managed to read his lips.

[Happy, Matt? I called Sarah.]

Oh my God. John Matheson was having conversations with a dead Matthew Gideon, and I suddenly felt ill.

The others took the confirmation rather well.  Max laughed softly, while Galen just looked at me in amusement. Even Dureena was smirking, and I wished I could share their jubilation. Instead, I felt like screaming at them, warning them that we weren’t going to throwing a baby shower for John.


Figuring that would put a damper on their day, I didn’t mention it, though Max realized quickly that I wasn’t telling them everything. He tried to get me to talk, but I refused to say anything. How could I tell my husband that John Matheson was in all likelihood, insane? And that as a doctor, I’d have to have him committed? And with ‘Paths, most of the time, the insane ones stayed committed until they died. I’ve been in those institutions, which deal extensively with the psychically sensitive that have become … ‘unbalanced.’

It had turned my stomach, and all I could imagine was John Matheson being taken into one of those places, growing more and more deranged as the thoughts from the others slowly pushed him more and more off balanced.  Even after being drugged, the others would still affect John’s tentative grip on sanity, and I suddenly hated myself.

Why hadn’t I seen this coming? Why had I agreed to his request in the first place?

Because I thought I was God, and I could ease his pain by giving him what he wanted. I had loaded the dice in his favor, and went away happy that I had tried to give him what he wanted. I should have kept a better eye on him.

Not even Max had ever been that arrogant, to take upon himself the role of the Creator, and I suddenly realized that I had not only casually destroyed John, but also the unborn children he was carrying.

John was sleeping, and I wasn’t.  He had numerous pillows propping him into a more comfortable position, and I just couldn’t relax.  Sarah was on her way, here, and John had gotten extremely quiet after that.  He’d say things, then stop, as though fearing that he was back on the tightrope again, and one misstep would be his doom.

He was on edge, and so were the babies, who were feeding off his unease.  I began ordering him to do things, to keep his mind off the fact that Sarah Chambers-Eilerson was due… pardon the expression, in a very short time. The beard went, and we tried to cut his hair.  He had shaved his hair very short after he had left EF, and John had tried to keep it short since then, but in the last few months, he hadn’t bothered. That bit of business accomplished, John began to clean up his bedroom.

Which was rather silly, as it was spotless.  John cleaned the windows, changed the sheets, and he then kept walking to the nursery and straightening it.  I made him eat, even though neither John nor I were much of a cook.  He ate flash packs far too often for me, but I had to admit that they were easier for him to utilize. No fuss, no cleaning, and everything was easily disposed.

But the very first thing I had forced John to do was to put the damn guns away.  That had been an argument and a half, as I had spent all my time sending gentle reassurances to John while he defended the fact why he had enough firepower to take out a small planet.  He wanted at least the hand gun so he could defend himself, but I had worn him down by refusing to allow him to have it anywhere near his… our… bed and reminding him that the electrical fence should be enough to keep intruders away.

He regretfully gave the gun up, and John put it into a locked box.

Good job, John.

John didn’t answer me, and I began walking him to the bed.  Humming something softly, I managed to trance him down enough so he could rest. With John asleep, I gently told the kids that Papa John was feeling very tired right now, so that’s why he was so stressed.  They seemed to believe me, and I felt better.  I wasn’t lying to them, as John was extremely exhausted, and he was still far too thin for my comfort.  His belly was jutting out from his gaunt body, and I suddenly really wanted Sarah here. So much could go wrong, and I couldn’t understand why she was taking so damn long.

Four weeks to go, Sarah. Where the hell are you?


It was a sharp, steady pain that frightened me when it woke me from a sound sleep.  Not just the fact that I hurt, but because the pain had a tearing sensation to it that made me nervous.  Tearing, oh God, the pain.  I tried to position myself so I could ease the pain, but the pain intensified and strengthened.


I’m here. I’m here.

[This isn’t labor, I think.  Oh… Oh…] Fumbling for the scanner that was on the nightstand, I knocked it off the table, and we both cursed when we heard it hit the floor. [Forget the fucking thing. I’m not going to be able to get it.]  I was weeping from the pain, and I suddenly sent a thought to the kids.

[Hey! Guys?]

No response, not even a murmur.


The sudden burst of fear caused me to jolt their minds a little harder than I should have, and I was suddenly relieved when they began to kick hard.

John? I’m going to go find Sarah. I’ll be back.

Then Matt was gone, and I was alone with my fear and my pain.

Shit. I didn’t have to look at the sky to realize that there were only a handful of stars left in the land of Twilight.  So little time left, I thought.  SARAH!!!! I screamed as I leapt for her mind.

To hell with propriety, to hell with being unobtrusive, fuck the Matthew the Friendly Ghost routine, when I landed into Sarah’s mind, I came in hot.  She was talking to Galen when suddenly I took over her body. No time for gentle prompting, as I didn’t like what John was experiencing. The tearing sensation could be nothing, or it could be the placenta tearing away from the abdomen cavity.  The Technomage’s facial expression showed surprise when I took over her body. At any other time, I would have enjoyed seeing his smug expression turn to one of complete surprise.


“Matthew?” He asked.

GET HER HERE, DAMN IT.  I screamed John’s coordinates at Galen, twice, even though I knew that the group had them already. Mission accomplished,I then gave Sarah back her body. I could sense her confusion over my visitation and I heard Max telling Sarah that she better start explaining to the rest of the group about what John's current mental state might be.

While I wanted to stay to find out what Sarah thought just to be prepared when she showed up, I really  had to leave as I had to be with John right now.

Then I suddenly reached backwards, and I landed back in the land of Twilight.  There were only three or four stars left, but I could see that I was no longer alone. Now, John Matheson was lying in the field and I rushed to his side. He was cold, and his lips were blue.  I kept shaking him over and over, screaming at him to talk to me, when I suddenly noticed that he was thin, even with the distinctive swelling profile that I had gotten used to seeing.  Thin, emaciated even, and I began to feel real terror.

I screamed at him, while the stars overhead darkened and faded, when suddenly John roused enough to look at me.

[So...Sorry...] He sent in a mental tone of full of grief and loss, and I suddenly wailed as John faded from my arms. Overhead, the last star darkened, and faded, and I was alone, holding onto nothing.


“Partial placental tear.  He’s lost a lot of blood. Jesus! He has to be on a waterbed, doesn’t he. Can’t make it easy for me, Matheson, can you?”

“Will he…”

“I don’t know about him or the kids. Now, shut up, as I’m going to need...”

I could hear Sarah and the rest, while I was lost in the darkness.  Weeping, I could feel that this overpowering sense of rage was filling my soul. It wasn’t FUCKING fair…. IT WASN’T! And the minute I saw the Head Cheese in the hereafter, I was going to file a complaint.


My rage kept festering and building, until at last it exploded….

He was gone, and I felt myself floating off… elsewhere.  Closing my eyes for just a moment, I suddenly felt like Matthew was holding me, and I opened my eyes to see him.  We were in darkness, and he was so angry. I tried to apologize, as it was my fault, for running away and hiding.  I whispered an apology hoping that he wouldn't hate me forever while the darkness overwhelmed me.

“Goddamn it, John. Not you, too.”

Sarah was yelling that loudly at me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to respond. Fading in the darkness, my last conscious thought was when the hell did they show up? Why was I flipping through these different locales?

“Come on, John. Breath. BREATH.”

My anger gave me enough energy to leave the darkness, and I found myself falling. [John] I kept thinking, hoping that I’d be able to find him again. Falling, falling…. Toward a dim and distant light, and I was gathering speed as the light grew brighter. For some reason, I hoped it was John’s soul, and that we were meeting again. But, damn it. Weren’t Angels supposed to fly about the place? You never heard stories about Angels falling. I had never fallen before when I had traveled from soul to soul, so this was odd. The light grew closer and closer, when I suddenly hit it hard.  Breaking the barrier of John’s soul, I poured everything I had into it.

John’s body suddenly seized, and I wished that I wasn’t the only medically trained person here.  The rest were trying to help, but things were happening here that I wanted a second opinion on.  His back arched, and suddenly his eyes opened. They were wild, and they held no comprehension in them.

“Breath, Goddamn you, breath,” cursed Max as I heard Galen and Dureena echo that comment.

Then John suddenly gasped for air, as though he was choking, and then he collapsed back into his bed. His breathing was rapid and shallow, but at least he was breathing again.  Checking his pulse, it was weak and rapid, while he was ice cold.

“Shocky. He’s lost a lot of blood.  I’ll need the blue vial, in the third drawer.”

Floating. I was floating softly, in a dark and comfortable warmth.

John.  Matt’s voice was soft in my mind.

Drifting comfortably with Matthew in my mind, I suddenly realized that I was physically uncomfortable.

John? His voice was louder in my mind, and I was getting annoyed with him. Come on, I wanted to sleep. As I got more aware of my surroundings, I realized more and more how uncomfortable I was.

Come on, I know you can hear me. John?

Not just uncomfortable, I should say, try un-fuckin-comfortable. That’s what I was, lying on my side, with my legs elevated. Odd position to be in, especially since I don’t remember ever willingly being put in that position. It made the kids shift to the one side, but fortunately they seemed to be in a sound sleep at the moment.  Moving my hand slightly, I rested it on my stomach.


It was still there and apparently bigger than ever.

I guess it would be too much to hope that somehow that I had given birth and I had missed it completely? Or that the kids would have been potty trained? I really wasn't looking forward to the terrible twos with triplets!

JOHN? JOHN! Matt’s voice sounded overjoyed. You really scared me. I thought for a moment that you and the kids were going to join me.

Tentatively I opened one eye, and I saw Max Eilerson was sitting next to me, reading a book.  I mumbled something, and he suddenly put the book down, and smiled. “John Matheson. Didn’t you learn anything from me? If you’re going to sleep around, you should use birth control or else you’re going to end up with child. John, you looked like you’ve been knocked up by the goddamn Marine Corps.”

I smiled slightly, while Matt made a rather lewd and proud comment about his virility.  After I gently reminded him that we had HELP with this, Matt pouted for a bit.

“Now. We’ve been sitting here, waiting to see if you’d come around, so I'd better get Doctor Sarah in here. She’s been here for the last two weeks, waiting on you night and day and then day and night, while you slept. Sarah’s sleeping right now, finally, so I’ll have Dureena wake up her up.  I’m then going to also bring you something to eat, as you need to eat.  We’ve managed to plump Sleeping Beauty up a bit by infusing high caloric intake while you slumbered.”

[Oh? That explains the fact that I’ve got two IV’s.]

I heard Matt’s bemused agreement.

“You scared the hell out of us, Sleeping Beauty. Do you know that?” Max’s voice sounded fond, and I suddenly realized how being married to Sarah had changed him into a man that was able to comfortably express his emotions. “Cold?”

I nodded.  I was shivering, but not from the cold, but I didn’t want Eilerson to know.

“Here.” Max covered me with another blanket, and Matthew began trying to calm me down.

[Sarah! Matthew, can you PLEASE shut up? I can’t let it slip that you’re here in my mind. Don’t you understand that?]

He did. Thank God.

Something had happened, some barrier had been broken when I had penetrated John’s soul.  He had been dying, and I had felt that. With a strength born of terror, I had poured everything I had left into keeping that fading spark alive.  It had been enough, I guess, as he was still around.  It had been rather nerve wracking for me, as I had been fully aware of everything going on, while John had been in a state close to coma.  I guess that’s a good description of what his condition had been, as I couldn’t hear him mentally at all.   The children had been terrified by what was going on as they couldn’t hear John, and when Sarah had hooked them up to a fetal monitor , they had been extremely fearful. I had concentrated on just trying to soothe  and reassure our children that everything was going to be all right.

In a rather odd position, lying on his side, with his feet elevated significantly over his head, but… I’m sure Sarah had a reason for it. If not just for the fact that it would be damn hard for John to escape from that position.

Sarah walked into the room, and I wasn’t sure what to look out for, but I could feel John begin to tense up.

“Hello, John.”  I gently smiled at him, and then I took a deep breath. “Hello, Matt. We’ve missed you.”

John nearly lost his composure when I greeted Matthew, but he tried to hide it.

“Matthew? Sarah. He’s… dead.”  John’s voice was shaky.

There was no possible way that I was going to get him to admit that Matt was in his mind, so I tried to be soothing. “I know, but I also know that Matthew Gideon has been a very bad spirit.  Jumping in and out of my mind repeatedly, telling me to find you at all cost. Did he tell you, John, that he scared the bejesus out of Jaia a few times? He should be ashamed of himself, scaring a five-year old like that.”

John still wouldn’t admit it, so he asked why he was in such a crazy position.

“You were shocky, so we kept you in that position for a bit. Matt got me here in the nick of time, so make sure you thank him. He saved you and the children.” Again, I mentioned Matt’s name, just to calm my dear ‘Path down. I didn’t think he was crazy, especially after Matthew had decided to take over my body to scream at us for help, but just that he had been alone in his grief for far too long with only Matthew's ghost for company.

“Sarah?” There was a question in his voice, and I motioned for him to continue. “How many?”

I was about to answer him when Max and the rest of the group barged in to see John. My husband was carrying a tray, and he had a wicked smile on his face.  With a flourish, Max removed the cover of the plate to show a very nice meal with a rather large side of carrots.  Judging from the evil smirk plastered on my husband’s face, it was a running joke of sorts between the two of them.

“I hate carrots.” John moaned.

“Pet, you haven’t been taking care of yourself.” Max’s voice sounded fatherly, and I giggled mentally. The Master was back in full force, and John was going to have to deal with it.   “Fortunately, I’m here to keep an eye on you. I find it hard to believe that you’ve actually been eating that freeze-pack stuff.”

John looked doubtfully at the carrots, then at Max.

“Don’t worry, John. I’m the one who does most of the cooking, as Sarah would burn water.”

Sarah had greeted me, and John had been fearful and paranoid that Sarah might be trying to trick him into admitting that he could still hear me. He had reminded her that I was quite dead, and then Sarah had skillfully mentioned me again.  John was playing stupid and ignoring Sarah’s attempts to draw him out.

It was amazing; John Matheson-Gideon was almost as stubborn as I was.

John had been force fed by Dureena, of all people, and he had eaten the carrots, as she had threatened to do bodily harm to him unless he ate them without a complaint. Unsurprisingly, the threat worked.

After our friends had left, Sarah had stayed with John, examining him and giving him a full report on what had happened.  The placenta had partially torn, a not uncommon complication in this type of pregnancy, and John had lost blood and had gone into shock.  The children were fine, but John was on complete bed rest for the next week.  Then, if he behaved himself, he might be allowed to get out of bed for a bit.

“How much longer? Soon?”  John begged.

“Two… three weeks,” promised Sarah.

“Can you put my feet down?”

“If you promise not to run.”  She said that with a saucy grin.

“I can’t even walk fast right now.”

John and I spent the remainder of John’s pregnancy mostly in bed, talking with each other and the babies.   Nervously, John still refused to admit to anyone the fact that I was in his mind, and I accepted it.  While it would have been nice to personally thank Sarah for her help with my stubborn ‘Path, I knew that Sarah was aware of the gratitude I had for her.  That would have to be enough.

John slept a lot the next week, and when he was awake, they were forcing him to eat.  He’d refuse to eat, and then I’d take over the body.  Then, John ate, as I was forcing him to do so. John’s belly continued to expand as he got closer and closer to term, and inwardly, I was thrilled.  It must be me, but I found John more and more erotic as his abdomen grew and the children began complaining incessantly that they wanted out, out, out.

John. Love you. I sent that to him, as hard as I could.  I was worried, because I knew I was on borrowed time, so I wanted to make sure I told him that every chance I got.

There was a lot of noise in my home, as apparently Max and Sarah had decided to bring their kids along.  You could usually hear them outside, as either Mateo or Aphrael had pushed the other one into the lake, and there was laughing and promised threats of retribution.

Their three kids were moderately amused to find out that “Uncle John” was knocked up, but they managed not to laugh at me. Jaia really enjoyed the fact that I was on bed rest, as she usually napped next to me whenever her mom made her sleep.

Lovely.  I hoped that I was having a girl.  Odds were pretty good that Matt and I would have at least one girl, but having a girl like Jaia would be wonderful. Little girls smelled nice, I thought drowsily.



Don’t that little girl act fool you. She’s a hell raiser. If we do have a girl, you better keep a few of those rifles handy to scare the boys away.

Galen amused John with two fireballs that John recognized as being familiar. “Sparky?” John asked in delight. Damn me for being dead and a fool, but the light energetically bobbed up and down in a way that I thought meant a delighted yes at being recognized.  “Then that must be Sparkette. I haven’t seen them in a while.”

John? Do you realize that you won’t mention to Sarah that I’m here, but you’re talking to two fireballs as if they’re friends?

John ignored me, as he did most of my acidic comments, and then Dureena gave him a gift, that was wrapped in both a pink ribbon and a blue ribbon.  His mind suddenly remembered something rather risqué, and I picked up on it. John Matheson tied to a bedpost by blue ribbons?

Dureena wouldn’t need to tie you to the bed if she wanted to take advantage of you right now. All she’d have to do is crawl into bed with you, and you wouldn’t be able to escape. I deliberately planted that image in his mind, in which a rather lusty Dureena Nafeel was doing a sexual commando raid on a really pregnant John Matheson who just couldn’t escape from her. I threw in Sarah for good measure, as I was quite aware that John Matheson had sexually succored the troops when he was my XO. God knows it might give me some time to myself.

It had been amazing that John had become completely sex-starved after he was pregnant. John blamed it on the synthetic hormones that were racing through out his body, but I had my doubts.  It was only when John was up to eight months along that his libido had cooled down. Actually, it came to a screeching halt one night, so we hadn’t made love for a few weeks before the placenta problem had occurred.  Instead of making love with John, I spend a lot of time massaging his back and his feet.  While I wasn’t on the physical plane, John still claimed that my massages made him feel a great deal better, so I continued.

[Will you stop it with the comments for just a moment? I need to open the gift. It’s from all of them, and I wonder what it is.]

God! Give Matheson a present, and he’ll ignore everything but that.

John opened it up to find a data crystal. Actually a collection of data crystals, and I mentally groaned.

Eilerson’s giving you porn? Wonderful.

“What’s this?” John asked.

“Galen did some Technomagic.  The data crystals have Matt’s life on them.  Not everything, but every article or interview we could find on him. His service record, a list of his ships, his reprimands from EF, his awards…” Sarah suddenly stopped for a moment, while John suddenly got a lump in his throat. “We thought that way his children would know what type of man he was, since they’ll never know him like we did.”

Damn it, I was sniffling like a baby right now, and John was trying not to let it affect him.

“Thank you.”

Then our four friends left him alone, while John began to play the data crystals while he gently whispered to our children, telling them to listen.

Then there was the question of Sarah.  John had been quite happy to see his old friends, with the exception of Sarah, and I knew that Sarah noticed it.  He was positively verbose whenever Galen, Dureena or Max were in the room, the words tripping over themselves in their haste to escape from his mouth, but whenever Sarah was there, he’d retreat behind a wall of silence.  She was trying her best to make him relax, which only made him even more nervous.  Sarah spent a lot of time with my nervous ‘Path, massaging his back, and advising him of what was going on with the children, and still John didn’t say much more than a word or two.

John! She’s not going to take the children away from you, as you aren’t crazy.  Speak to her; you’re really upsetting her because she knows that you’re afraid of her for some reason.

That last comment got John very nervous, and I cursed myself for having put my spectral foot in my mouth.  I’m sure Sarah had her suspicions about why John was so quiet and she tried not to press the issue with him.  Each day, she’d examine him and would talk to him, while John would try not to show her how afraid he was of her.  She knew him the best of the remaining members of the Excalibur crew, and she’d know if John was acting… odd.  He tried his hardest to act like the old John, but he knew that it didn’t fool Sarah, so then he’d shut down again.

John was on extended bed rest so he spent far too much time communicating with the unborn, reassuring them constantly about being born.  I told him that he should be spending more time talking with the adults, as the kids weren’t much of conversationalists.  They were complaining that they were cramped, and they wanted out.

Sarah entered the room, and she pulled the covers off a completely naked John. He grabbed the sheets, and managed to pull the sheets back up over his bulging belly.  For some reason, he was rather sensitive about how big his tummy was.  I gleefully decided to bring to his attention that his belly button had popped, and John tried to ignore my comments.

Glad that only happens there. I mean, can you imagine what would happen...

John began humming mentally, trying to ignore my comments about how strange it would look if other parts of his body popped out like that.

“Hey!”  He growled. “Warn me next time.”

She smirked and then placed a flat screen monitor on the bed. “Lie on your back.”

“Are you taking advantage of me again? With your husband and kids in the other room?”  John quipped that at her, but I could still feel his fear of her in his mind. What was she doing?

“I thought you might like to really see what’s in your belly, but since you don’t want to, I’ll put the equipment away.”

John! Shut up! I want to see this.

“Ok.” He whispered.

“Good patient.” She remarked dryly, as she again removed the blankets from John, and then began applying some sort of jelly to John’s abdomen.  It was cool, and John shivered slightly. Then she began humming to herself, as she set the monitor up. “Ready? First I have to shave you…” John moved slightly while she was doing that.  “I need to do that every day until the babies decide to be born as I don’t want to have to shave your abdomen while you’re in labor. Now, if you’ll stop wiggling.”

“Ticklish.”  John admitted, while I sent a rather raunchy thought of a very pregnant John Matheson being tickled by me.

“I noticed. Now, let me get this jelly on your tummy right now and you should be able to see the show in just a minute or so. Excited?”


“Excellent. Normally, if you had some sort of prenatal care, you would have had this done regularly so this would be old hat by now. I’m going to run this sensor over your belly, and we should be able to see how many children you’re having. Do you want to know the sex of the children?”

John asked me, and I told him that I’d really like to know. We still hadn’t figured out names yet!

“Yes. Please.” He assured her.

“Wonderful. Now live and in color, it’s…. The inside of John Matheson’s pseudo-uterus,” Sarah announced.

John began peering at the screen and began counting body parts.  “Three? We think there’s three.”

“We?” Sarah asked gently, as John suddenly flinched.

“W-w-we. The kids and I.  I can hear three awareness.”  Hoping that Sarah would believe him, and not push the issue, John began silently promising the children that nobody would separate them.

Here we were again. Back at Square One, at 39 weeks and holding.  How the hell was I going to solve this problem between Sarah and John?

“Oh yes. I keep forgetting that Telepaths have a distinct advantages over us norms.”

John relaxed slightly, and managed to joke. “Not really. They’re complaining lately that they’re really cramped and that they want out.”

“OK.  This is baby #1, who is hiding what we wanted to see behind baby #2.  Full head of hair, and that baby will probably be in the four-kilogram weight range, as is baby #2.  Come on, move a little, we’re not seeing anything here except for cheeks and we don’t want that. OK. So you’re both modest, unlike your one father who likes to walk around naked.” Smirking at John when she said that, her jest made John blush.

“Nothing fits anymore, except for that robe.” John protested, while I laughed.

That doesn’t fit John! All sorts of delightful parts are hanging out now.

“Hate to break it to you, John, it doesn’t fit anymore, which is why Dureena is out looking for something larger. Now, let’s look for Baby #3.” Sarah continued to move the sensor over John’s tummy.

“Wait, I want to do something. Find Baby #1 for me.”

Mission accomplished, John carefully put his hand where the child was.  “Hello, I see you. And you’re beautiful.” He spoke that and sent that to the child, and he was rewarded with a strong kick from Baby #1 along with a few baby thoughts.

“So that’s its voice.” John spoke softly.  “This was the last voice that I could hear.”

“OK. Here’s Baby #2.” Sarah’s voice was amused.

John repeated his comments, and then the baby kicked hard and murmured a few thoughts.

“Second voice. Now I have to greet the other one. I’ve been hearing that voice for so long now.” He gave Sarah an embarrassed smile, “I started hearing this voice a few weeks after the conception, and I wasn’t sure what the noise was.”

It took a bit of maneuvering as Baby #3 was a slippery little devil, and its siblings were covering it.

“John, this one’s significantly smaller than the other two.  Right now, I’m thinking that its birth weight will be in the two-kilogram weight range, so you’ve got to start eating more. I want it weighing in at least the three range if not bigger.”

John.  Hate to tell you I told you so… but I told you so.

“That’ll make the other monsters bigger?”  John questioned.

“Yes. But at least you don’t have to worry about a vaginal delivery.” Sarah commented.

John ignored that comment, as he was softly talking and ‘pathing to our smallest child. “Hello. It’s nice to see what you look like, we’ve been talking together for such a very long time now.”

Wonders of wonders, baby #3 didn’t kick; instead, I think the bugger laughed.

John was falling asleep, clutching a picture of the children that Sarah had printed off for him, and she was busy cleaning him off.  I was pushing him off to sleep, but he was trying his hardest to stay awake so he could look at the picture. He was tracing the picture with his finger, and he was busy assigning ‘voices’ to each child in the picture.

Three babies and we still had no idea what the sex was. Sarah had given us both a technical explanation about why she couldn’t find out using the scanner. Pretty much it was that using was scanner was very bad during the last month, I think.  I wasn’t definitely sure, but I think that the gist of it was that two brain patterns would show up on the scanners, meaning that there was an additional passenger in John’s mind.  Sarah had protected John by having Galen destroy the other two scanners “Accidentally” in a freak Technomage accident of some sort.

John was finally asleep, and Sarah gently took the picture from his hand.  Smoothing the picture out, she gently placed it next to him on the bed.

“John?” She whispered. Then a little louder, “JOHN?”

No response as both John and the kiddies were asleep. They had an emotional day today so I decided to put the entire group to sleep.

Sarah then sat down on the bed, and she whispered very softly. “Matthew? Will you consent to speak with me? John’s deeply asleep, and he’ll never know. I know you’re there, and I also don‘t think that John created you. I know, that you’re really Matthew Gideon and that you’ve been ‘visiting’ me these past few months. I haven’t mentioned it to him because he’s so scared of me.”

Yes? I answered.


Yes, Sarah. It’s me.  He’s not crazy, and I’m not a split personality.

“I know. Why is he so afraid of me? Every time I try to calm him down, he gets more and more apprehensive of me. Does he think that I’ll take the children from him?”

Yes. I spoke bluntly to Sarah. She deserved the truth after all.  He’s terrified of that. Be gentle with my pregnant ‘path, Sarah. He’s been alone all his life, and he’s afraid of the solitude. Everything he’s loved has been ripped from him, and John’s been obsessing compulsively about that for the last few months. He won’t be able to handle it, if something happens. Please, Sarah.  Help him. I’ve tried so hard, and… I’m really worried that it’s not going to be enough.

"The others know what's going on, that you're here and that John's worried about... his sanity.  We're going to do our best with him, Matt, please believe me."

I know. Thank them for me, Sarah.

Sarah wept softly, and I wanted to console her, but she refused to accept my comfort.

Sarah never admitted to talking to me, but she tried very hard to be gentle with John, reassuring him constantly that she had felt my presence, and so she knew that I was still around, keeping an eye on him.  So she’d talk to the both of us, while she examined John, and John slowly grew less fearful of her.

The others took their turns with John, usually sitting on the bed next to him while they talked to John.  I was surprised by Eilerson, for of all of them, he displayed the most tact and compassion with John. Skillfully, he managed to draw my telepath out from behind the emotional walls John was hiding behind.  He let John direct the conversation wherever he wanted it to go,  and Max managed to get John laughing quite a few times with one of his sardonic comments.

John got stir crazy in bed, even with me to entertain him, so Sarah decided that he could get out of bed for a brief time daily.  I guess learning card games isn’t John’s idea of fun, and he was too mentally wiped to read or to play chess with me. It was a major production getting him out of bed, as first we had to find something for him to wear that would fit and Galen and Max had to help him out of bed.

They were cruel to John, first giving him this ungodly ugly housecoat.  Polka dots, fluorescent stripes and lots of ruffles. The fabric felt like burlap, and it was short. I estimated that it would come to about his mid-thigh, if not higher.

“Sorry, John. Only thing I could find to fit.” Dureena announced.

John had tried to be polite, and thank her, but Dureena began to snicker.

“Here’s the real one.  Hope you like it. The look on your face!” Dureena continued to laugh while John hesitantly reached out to touch the other robe.  Soft, like silk, and it was going to be much longer, reaching to his mid-calves. It was a simple black robe, with no ruffles and no frills, and John smiled.

“Lovely. Would you mind leaving so I could put it on?”

John was terribly self-conscious about how odd he looked at the moment, so Dureena flitted out after promising to send Galen and Max in to help him get out of bed.  John was about to ignore that helpful suggestion until I firmly told him to take it.  Might need a crane, John.

John struggled, but he managed to sit up on the edge of the bed, and get the robe on.  It appeared to fit well over his plus-sized frame, and John was even able to tie the robe shut. That accomplished, Galen, Max and Sarah helped him out of bed.

That done, John suddenly realized that his center of gravity was a lot lower than he was used to, so he shuffled over to the mirror to take a look.   John was rather stunned when he saw himself in the mirror as he had gained a significant amount of weight since Sarah had taken over his medical care.  The children had ‘lightened’ and his abdomen was enormous.

“Oh my GOD! I’m HUGE! I’m my own fucking galaxy!” was the comment he made, but I have edited a few words from that so not to offend the poor children.  “Sarah? How much weight have I gained?”

Sarah began to talk, but then John interrupted her.

“Never mind, I don’t want to know.  But no doubt thanks to you, I’ve put on all the weight I need to?”  John had shifted his hands, so that they were supporting his belly as his back was starting to scream in pain.

“A little more,” Sarah admitted. “I prefer my patients to be a little heavier than what the guidelines say. You were significantly underweight, and you just hit what we call the finishing stage, where the kids plump up before delivery.”

John Matheson-Gideon wasn’t that happy, I could tell, so I suggested quickly that we walk…

WADDLE, he snarled mentally.

WALK, I continued, oblivious to his comment, to the back porch before Sarah decided to ground us. After all, we were close to 40 weeks, and the babies had turned, so they’d be showing up shortly. John was stubborn and he refused the two men’s help that were hovering over this shoulder as he shuffled down the hallway.

I wish I were really here, so you could lean on me. I sent that as softly as I could, as I was feeling very protective of poor John. God! I wish I was physically here, as I would have supported him carefully as he leaned on me.  Why wouldn’t he let Galen or Max help him?

It was a slow, laborious process for the two of us, until John reached the back porch. The fact that John was mentally humming “The March of the Baby Elephants” would have been amusing if anyone else, besides John, was the really pregnant person waddling down the hallway.  Come on, John. This was an incredible experience we were sharing here!

Max, having been through this before, was remarkably solicitous of John, as though expecting John to bite him at any moment. Perhaps our maternal Sarah had been cranky in the last few weeks of her pregnancies?

John found the lounger, and decided to lie down on it. He could see the lake from where he was reclining, and Max expertly packed a few pillows here and there to make John more comfortable.

“It’s a bit brisk, now, so shall I cover you with this?” asked Dureena.

“Sure.” John agreed, and Dureena carefully covered him with a blanket.

“Yell if you want us.”  She laughed as they left John alone.

Mentally, I sent John the fact that I was lying behind him, my arms were around him and resting on his belly.  Nice. I sent to him, while I gently kissed his neck and slowly slid one spectral hand up to cup his breast.  Double D! I told him delightedly.

“You better stop that, as I simply don’t even want to think about where that might lead."

Too late. I jokingly sent.  I’m already raring to go, but I know that you’re uncomfortable, so I’ll just lie here and think really dirty thoughts about seducing you.

John mentally laughed.  [Think you could tell me what you want to do to me? It’s nice to know that this belly hasn’t turned you off.]

First, I’d rip the robe off of you so I could admire you….

Things progressed, as they were supposed to, and John Matheson-Gideon wasn’t happy.

[I look like I swallowed a watermelon. Or THREE.]

I mentally kissed the back of his neck, and hugged him, with both of our hands landing under his rather prominent belly, trying to support it.  No, John, I have to disagree.  It just doesn’t look like a watermelon. It looks like three kids, who have been complaining about being cramped and wanting out for the last month.  They’ve dropped into position, the pilots are waiting for their orders, and pretty soon, they’ll be launching like Starfuries.

Catching his mental image of the kids bursting out of his belly like Starfuries being launched from the Excalibur, I had to laugh, which upset him.

They’re not coming out at three Gs, clad in space suits, John. Now, keep walking.

John continued to walk, until he had a contraction, causing him to double up in pain. Max then grabbed him, and supported him until it passed. Having been through this before, Max was recording the length and times of the contractions, and then reporting them to Sarah, who didn’t appear at all concerned.

“This is not right,” snarled John. “I’m not female, they’re not going through my non-existent vagina. Why the HELL do I have to have labor pains?”

Because the scientists that created this process were Females, and they didn’t want you to miss a single detail of the entire experience. Max and I repeated that by rote, and John Matheson snarled again.

“The “Labor” pains are actually the placenta detaching from the abdomen cavity.  If you hadn’t insisted on having the children here, I could have had you in a first class medical establishment, where I could have manually separated the thousand of microscopic fibers connecting the two. But no. You wanted this, and it’s too late to change your mind now.” Sarah’s voice was tart and unsympathetic, as she had been through this three times already. “As it is, you’re lucky that Galen was able to sterilize this place to my satisfaction or else you’d be in a hospital.”

John! The kids are scared. Remember you need to reassure them. I can’t do this by myself, and they don’t hear me as clearly as they do you!

“Can’t win with her, can I?” John asked that of Max.

“Nope. Never.”

I love you.  We love you, and really want you here. Don’t be afraid, you’re just being born. John began chanting that mentally in his head, until the next contraction.

That one REALLY hurt, and John would have fallen to his knees except for the fact that Dureena and Max caught him.

It was my fault, really, I guess, as I had finished seducing John shortly before the first contraction hit.  It had been a gentle session of lovemaking, in which mentally I just touched and caressed him while making sure he was completely comfortable.   Bluntly, I wouldn’t have even thought about it, as John was overdue by a week, except John had hesitantly asked me.  He was feeling awkward, and he wanted to be loved, so I had agreed.

John and I hadn’t made love since before his placenta had torn. It was mainly due to his lack of desire, not mine, so I was surprised when he asked me.   In the back of my mind, I remembered something about love making inducing labor, and I thought that probably John had asked me to seduce him for that particular purpose.  I could sense that he was really tired of not being able to see his feet.  That was a crushing blow to my ego, so I had concentrated on the gentlest of mental thoughts, the barest and briefest of teasing musings that soon had John quite aroused and wanting me.

[Stop teasing me, please.]  He had requested of me, and unfortunately, I misheard him, I thought he wanted MORE, so I taunted him for a bit.  I had finally stopped teasing him, and let him have his pleasure after he begged me to stop teasing him.

Hey! Don’t need to beg, John. You’re a former Starship Captain. We don’t beg, we bellow and demand!

It had been blissful in the afterglow. John and I were talking softly, and I was gently exploring his body with my fingers, as I really wanted to touch him.  For once, John wasn’t tensing up when I explored his metamorphosing body, so I slowed down, enjoying my chance to leisurely touch him.  Stroking, massaging and caressing John with my spectral hands, I suddenly realized that John was relaxing into slumber.  His face was relaxed, and I was suddenly reminded of the last time that he had looked so content.  It was after our second night together and he had been whispering at me to go to sleep for  I would not have any nightmares as he was beside me. I had still been so terrified that our lovemaking had been due to his pity for me, and John had been trying to reassure me of how much he had enjoyed being intimate with me.   I had fallen asleep while John had been holding me, while he was wearing a bemused smile on his face. This was the first time that John appeared completely at peace with everything that had occurred in the last year, and I was delighted.  Had I been successful in helping to heal John?

John? You happy?

[Unbelievably so.]

It was a lovely moment that lasted only a short time when suddenly the babies kicked really hard.

Hey! Dad and Dad want some private time. I sent that to them, while John woke up from the powerful kick they had delivered. They let fly again with a karate chop, and John winced in pain.  Touching their minds, I found them wild and fearful while they continued to fight and kick inside of John.  John? ‘Path to them, they’re not listening to me.  Their unborn minds were full of fear, they didn’t want to leave the warm darkness, and it would be cold and bright in the new place. No, they didn’t want to leave the warmth, where they heard John’s heartbeat.

John tried consoling them, when suddenly he doubled over in severe abdomen pain.  [SHIT. That hurt!]

The babies began crying hysterically, that they didn’t want the pain; that they didn’t want to leave, and please don’t make them.  They were cramped, packed in like sardines, and the pain caused the warm darkness to contract. Please make it stop!




“I think so.”

SARAH! Which was stupid, as Sarah couldn’t hear me, but it made me feel better, ok?

“Matt, you’re panicking. Please stop.”

Am not.

[Are too.]

Sarah had examined John, agreed with Dr. Gideon’s opinion on the labor, and then she made John walk.  We had been walking for almost six hours, when John suddenly sagged on Max’s shoulder.

“Can’t do this. Hurts.”

“Sarah?” questioned Max.

Sarah nodded, and then John was put into bed, and prepped.  That done… we waited, while John’s contractions came faster and lasted longer.  Max was feeding John’s ice chips, gently wiping his brow with wet, cool towels, and for a moment, I was jealous. I should be there, helping John, not Eilerson.

[You’re helping me, now, by being here. Help me? Stay with me?]

I fused further with John’s soul, trying to ease his pain when the contractions hit, and I think it helped him.  We were in this position for a while, and John and I were trying to calm down the children, as they were scared. Baby #1 and Baby #2 were wild with fear, but Baby #3 was being awfully quiet.

“Roll him on his side, we’re going to give him anesthesia through the spine, that way you won’t feel anything when I make the incision, John.  It’s almost time.”

Sarah directed the group to roll John on his side, and then she skillfully inserted the drugs into John’s spine.  It was wonderful, as he was no longer being ripped apart by the pain; instead, he was feeling a dull cramping in his middle. It affected John mentally also, as he felt like he was floating in the sky, uncaring of what was going on beneath the sheet.

I’m in love with the epidural lady. I said that through John’s lips and Sarah suddenly snorted a laugh.

“John, Max is in the room, so no proclamations of undying love and devotion, please.” The way Sarah said it said to me that she knew I had said it, but that she was hiding John’s secret. “Galen? Max? Hold his shoulders and hands down, while I do this.”

I felt a slight pain in my… our… belly, and then more. It wasn’t unbearable, just a pinprick that slowly increased, until it was a dull ache.

“Dureena? Towel please. There we go. John? Matt? We’ve got a girl.”

“Zoë. Her name is Zoë.  I’ll have to think of a middle name, for her. Hi, Zoë. I love you.” John’s voice sounded tearful, and I must confess that I was weeping also. John had wanted a girl, and it was the first one, right off the bat!

“Careful. Go introduce her to Daddy. Now, what do we have here? Another baby?”

John was busy examining Zoë, reassuring that she was perfect, beautiful and he loved her so much, and I was so intent on mentally agreeing with him, that it took me a minute to realize that there was another baby crying.

“We’ve got… come on, this is no time for modesty, kid… It’s a boy.”

“Matthew Aaron.” John was grinning wildly.  A BOY! With my name, and he looked wonderful.  I quickly assured Zoë that I really loved her and not to be jealous of her baby brother.

Cold. They felt cold, and they were scared, so the two of us kept reassuring the two of them, until they recognized our voices. Then they had another pressing concern. Hungry. Both of them were famished, and they wanted lunch.

John wasn’t planning on breast-feeding them, but Sarah had recommended it as a way to cut down on the post-natal internal bleeding so he hesitantly put one of them to his breast. The next feeding, John would switch them to formula, but for now, it was time for John, OUR children and me to bond. Zoë latched on like a pro, while John marveled at her perfect form.

Hey! Don’t forget Matt! I sent.

Matt was a little bit fussier, so Max had to help John with him, and then both children began nursing.

John. You’re smiling again.  In spite of being inside of John, I wanted to pass out cigars.  Our children were beautiful. Ok, they looked a little odd, with their squashed faces and spiky hair, but they were OUR children, and they were Goddamn beautiful.

“Come on, don’t be shy. I know you’re still in there.” Sarah’s voice sounded normal, but I suddenly sensed that it was a façade.

[Matt? I think there’s a problem with the third one.] John’s voice was terrified, and suddenly, I was too. What the hell was taking so long? I could feel the third child mentally, but its voice was faint, and it just didn’t want to leave John.

“Don’t be difficult. God knows your siblings weren’t this difficult.  Your parents, that’s another story.” Sarah’s voice sounded like she was ruffled.

Come on! It’s time to be born. Join your brother and sister outside. I sent that as hard as I could, and so did John. The distant cramping was continuing and Sarah was looking intense. She began asking Galen for help, and that got me worried.

GALEN? Helping? That meant things weren’t going that well.  The two older kids having been fed and burped, had decided to fall asleep, so Max took them and placed them gently in a crib.  Dureena was sitting next to John now, and the other child still wasn’t here.

It had been almost twenty minutes since Matt had arrived, and what was keeping the other one?

There was a tearing pain, which increased until John was weeping from the pain.  Sarah and Galen were both discussing something rapidly, and I tried to keep talking to our youngest child, who was terrified and in agony. John was in terrible pain, and he began to scream for me.

“MAT-THEW! Oh God, MATTHEW! I wish you here right now. Matthew… Matthew….”

Max and Dureena were both holding him down, and John continued to call for me.

I’m here. I’m here. You know I am. I sent that repeatedly to him, and John continued to call my name.  He woke the children, and they began to cry. Loudly. Things were getting hairy, and I was getting rather nervous.

I don’t know how long it took, but suddenly there was a sudden weak cry, and Sarah began to coo. “Hello, beautiful.  Giving us a hard time? Maybe John should have named you Matt, instead.”

Max let go of John, and he began wiping John’s brow down with a cool, wet towel.  Dureena went to soothe the children, and John still kept whispering my name.

Come on, John. We need to think up another name quickly. Any ideas?

[I didn’t decide on another boys’ name.] John admitted sheepishly.  [Kept getting distracted. What do you think?]

Let’s look, and decide? Worse comes to worse, we’ll name him later on

“He’s a little bit smaller than the others, but that’s ok. Let me clean him up, and then Galen, you can present him.”  Sarah sounded exhausted, and I couldn’t blame her as I felt like I had been through the wringer.

Galen smiled when he handed John our youngest son. Peering intently at the child, John suddenly smiled and I could hear the love in his voice.  “Hey! You scared us, Alexander.”


“He looks like an Alexander, so that’s his name.” John explained sheepishly but I could tell that John had suddenly thought of an Alex, no… Alexi, from his past, and decided to honor him with this.  I wasn’t sure, but for some reason, I thought Alexi might have been someone important in the younger John’s life, from the brief mental daydream John had.

Who was Alexander? I asked, but John wouldn’t tell me. So I cheated, and looked back.  Alexander had been John’s father’s name, and he had died shortly after the Psi Corps had taken John away from his family. They had claimed it was a heart attack, but John’s mother had told him it was because of a broken heart. It’s a lovely name, John.

Love you, Alexi. I do, and welcome to the real world. I sent that as hard as I could, and I felt John echoing my thoughts. Alexi seemed to be a happy baby as I think he laughed. Carefully, John nursed him, showering him with his love and I could feel that John Matheson appeared to be at his happiest since I had died.

“That’s it, John. Placenta’s delivered, and you’re all stitched up.”

“No more, right?” He asked with a slight grin. “I ran out of names a while ago.”

“Promise. If you look, you can see your feet.”

Sarah took Alexi from John, and she handed him over to Galen. “Keep an eye on him for a bit, I’ve got to clean John up.”

The threesome were like most babies, made messes, cried except for Alexi who appeared to be always laughing, and one of them was always hungry.   Fortunately for John, our friends decided to stay with him for a bit, until he could get some help, and until he was back on his feet again.  John felt fine right after the delivery, thanks to Sarah’s miracle drugs, but the morning after, you could tell that giving birth to triplets had really hurt.

As John got healthier, I found it harder and harder to talk with him.  Now that his inner focus was on life, rather than death, there was a separation between the two of us, and for his sake, I was happy. For me, I missed those quiet moments with John when we’d talk about anything and everything that came into our heads.

John was still talking to me, but not as often as before, as our friends were forcing him to live, and he was.  I had assured John that he’d be a wonderful father, and I was right, especially with Alexi. Alexander the Great was smaller than his siblings, so John spent more time with him, assuring Alexi constantly of his love and support.  Alexi had an old soul, or else he had been affected by his early mental contact with John, as I found his mind to significantly ‘clearer’ compared to the other two.  The babies fortunately didn’t cry that much, as John could hear them mentally before they got fussy, and would handle the situation.

You’re spoiling them rotten, John. I had thought that hard, as each day it was more and more difficult to talk with him.

[So are you. So are you.] He laughed, and I marveled how happy he was.  [They’re only three months old now, so I’m not really spoiling them.]  Then my Teep turned serious. [Matt. You’re fading, aren’t you?]

Bit by bit. I had given the last of my strength to save his life, and ever since then, I had found myself fading by degrees.

[I should let you go.  You don’t have to worry about me succeeding in committing hara-kiri anymore and… I should let you go.]

It might be time, John. If I stay much longer… Each day I quietly said goodbye to our children as I was never sure how much time I had left with them.  I had badgered John constantly, making him vow that he would tell the children about me, and let them know that I had loved them dearly.

[Your soul will fade away to nothing.] John suddenly thought how much he loved our children, and me and I tried to send him my love.  [But, before you go. One last night of bliss? To hold me through those long years until I join you? For I’m never going to love anyone like you.]

Don’t say that, John. You might find someone, and believe me; you’ll have my blessings for it. Find love again, John, I won’t be angry.

Gently I kissed him, and I noticed John was laughing.


[My birth control’s up to date.]

What? You don’t want more?

[No. Next time it might be quints! Especially if Sarah decides to help it along.]

We made love that night, slowly, cherishing this as our final time together for now.  Then when John fell asleep, I decided it was time for me to leave John for he had decided to live. I wanted to say goodbye again to our children, but I could tell that that they were asleep.  For a moment, I was really disappointed, but I knew honestly that it would be better for them this way.

I love you.   I sent that as hard as I could, and I could feel that Alexi had woken up. No.. he had been in a half-sleep, actually, and that he was going to start to cry because of the pain he could sense in my voice. No, no. No.  None of that now.  I began humming a lullaby to him, glad that John wasn’t awake to hear it. I couldn’t really carry a tune if it had handles, but Alexi was quickly lulled to sleep.

I want you to be a Starship Captain, like John. Someone to be proud of. Not like me, ok?

I didn’t want to go, but I had to.  There was a burn in my eyes and I realized that I really didn’t want to let go.  If I didn’t go now, then I’d want to stay, and that would be unhealthy for my family.  I was dead, and it was time for the entire Matheson-Gideon clan to accept it.

Goodbye John, I never thanked you adequately for taking care of the Apocalypse Box, now did I? Or for this, I’m afraid.  My poor, lonely Telepath, you deserved so much better than me.

Thank you.

And then I let go…

I woke up in darkness, and I suddenly hoped that the afterlife wouldn’t be complete darkness.  For hours, it seemed, I was in lightlessness, until there was a brief light on the horizon.  Eagerly, I waited to see what it was, when I suddenly realized why the stars had looked so familiar to me.

I was home, I could tell by the eerie light of pre-dawn.  There was the lake, there was the house, and there was Alexi’s blanket that had been abandoned in the back yard. Picking it up off the ground, I mentally chastised John for allowing it to stay out all night. I certainly hoped that John was going to sterilize it before he let Alexi sleep with it again.  I got distracted from paternal thoughts, as I suddenly realized that I wasn’t alone. I was sitting next to me, and I suddenly inhaled.

My alter looked like hell, and I suddenly realized that was how I had looked when I died. Exhausted, pain ridden, and my God, how my hands had trembled. John? You had physically loved me even though I had looked that … frail?

[‘Bout time you came back.]

I had to stay. Why was I defending myself to myself?

[I know.]

He was lost in his grief, and I was worried that he’d do something drastic. But I shouldn’t have worried about him, because he ended up doing something really extreme because I was there, and he thought that he couldn’t live without me. John was wrong.

[He would have done the same thing, with or without you being there.]

My… HIS? Tone refused to be contradicted, and I suddenly wondered, who he... I… really was.

What would have happened, if I hadn’t been there? Asking him that question, I hoped to hear reassurances that I hadn’t harmed my lonely Telepath. I had tried so hard with John, to convince him to live.

My twin looked at me, and I saw the pain of possible futures in his hazel eyes.

[He would have called Sarah earlier, and she would have arrived before the placenta tore. When Sarah arrived, he would have been terrified that she was there to take the children from him so John would have tried to shoot Sarah in what he saw as justifiable self-defense.]  He paused slightly and then whispered.  [He would have killed Max who had been trying to protect Sarah.]

Oh God, no. I whispered.

[John would have snapped when he felt Max die, and he would have had to be institutionalized.  The knowledge that he had murdered Max would have eaten away at him, until he finally successfully committed suicide after numerous attempts. Sarah would have raised the children, loving them as if they were her own, but she would have blamed herself for eternity for what happened to John and Max as would Galen and Dureena. And the children… the poor children… would have been affected. The sins of the fathers are often visited on their children.]

I bit my lip, trying not to let my tears spill from my eyes.  So I didn’t hurt him? I was worried about that.

[No. You helped convince him that it was ok to live.]

What will happen to him?

[Ask him when he shows up. He’ll be here in a bit, so why don’t you get some sleep. You’re tired, Matt.]

I wasn’t tired, but suddenly I found myself yawning. The dawn was finally breaking, and it was breath taking.

[Go to sleep, Matt. It’s ok.]

I found myself lying on a lounger, Alexi’s blanket still in my hand, and I was yawning. Guess what, Alexi? You’re not getting your blanket back, just yet. Dad’s going to use it as a pillow. Wait? A pillow or two had just shown up, so I guess I was going to use your blanket for the correct purpose.  My doppelganger gently covered me with the blanket, which suddenly covered my frame quite well.  I inhaled softly, and I could smell baby lotion and other pleasant baby smells on the blanket.  The silly blanket was soft and warm, and reminded strongly me of John, so it was no wonder Alexi was so attached to it. Of all the children, his personality was the most developed, and I knew that he was going to be a hellion when he grew up, except to John. For I had realized that when I finally ‘met’ Alexi, that his was the voice that had been lovingly murmuring to John throughout almost the entire pregnancy.

Keep on eye on him for me, Alexander.

Can I visit them? I wanted to keep an eye on them, please?

[Not as directly as you did before, but they’ll know that you’re around, keeping an eye on them. The children are all high level Telepaths with Alexi being the strongest, so he’ll be the one that will notice your presence the most.]

“Who … are… you?  I asked, between yawns.


No.  For I suddenly knew what he was, but still not… WHAT he was. His voice had a hollow echo to it, as though he was speaking from inside a box. After all these years together, do you think I wouldn’t know who you are?  Obviously you helped out. Why?

“He released me, so there was a debt to be paid.”

Then whatever he really was, be it fallen angel, trapped soul or whatever; disappeared.

I popped in and out of their lives occasionally, and I was, on one visit, rather amused to see poor John running after three toddlers who had decided to go off in three directions as fast as their chunky little legs could go.  John had managed to grab Zoë before she landed headfirst into trouble in the flower garden, and then he was busy racing after Matt who was planning on exploring a mud pile, but Alexi was heading toward the lake so I quickly took action. John would have reached him in time, but the poor guy was going to be juggling the other two toddlers like they were footballs.

STOP! I mentally screamed at him, which scared Alexi so badly that he fell on his butt.  Apparently his chubby little bottom wasn’t that well padded as he began to screech loudly, as did his siblings. John grabbed Matt who was crying in concert with the rest of his siblings, and then trudged over to Alexi, who was looking innocent.

“Bad man scare me,” shrieked Alexi.

“What man?”  John asked.

“Him!”  Alexi said pointing directly at where I had been, but I had seen that coming, so I was hiding behind John.

Who me?  I mentally thought, which got Alexi shrieking again which set the others off. John was far more composed that I would have been as they were really quite loud, especially my namesake Matthew.

“Cut it out, guys.” He warned quietly, and they stopped screaming. No, now they were just sniffling and sobbing rather pathetically. It was enough to break my spiritual heart as I longed to sweep them up in my arms and comfort them. John, on the other hand, was used to their false alligator tears and wasn’t moved at all by the sad, pitiful sight in front of him.  “I warned you not to go off the porch.  I swear to God, you three take after Matt’s side of the family. I never picked locks like this when I was your age. How did you get that lock undone? I’m going to have to barricade it next time. Next time I talk to Galen, I’m letting him know that the lock wasn’t kid-proof.”

By the time all three kids had stopped sniffling, they were quite tired from their adventures out in the real world, and they had forgotten how to walk.  John sighed and Zoë tried to cheer him up by giving him a purple weed of some type. It was bedraggled and limp, as though it had been held tightly in a toddler’s hot hand for far too long.

“Pretty?”  She smiled up at John hopefully. God, Zoë did have my eyes, but other than that, she looked like John.  Far too cute for her own good, especially with the two pony tails. Her brother Matt was the spitting image of John, and Alexi was a mixture of the two of us.

“Definitely, Matt’s side of the family.”  He looked at the three kids who were looking bedraggled and tired.  John then sat down on the ground, and the kids began jumping on top of him.  It turned really wild then and a lot of giggling ensued when John turned on them.  I watched and I found myself smiling as I could sense the love between the four of them.

I told you that you’d make a great dad.

Then John grabbed all three of the kids and carried them back to the house. I noticed that he had grabbed the weed that Zoë had given him also.

“This is probably the last time guys, you’re getting really big!”

He dropped them off on the porch, and told them to get cleaned up as it was time for supper.  They raced off to do it, making a lot of noise again while John looked at the lock on the porch.

“If I didn’t know better, I think Dureena taught them a few things.” He growled, and then carefully melted the lock with a fuser that he then put on a very high shelf so the kids couldn’t get at, I noticed with approval.  “I’ll have to work on something tomorrow, but for now it’s safe.”

He walked into the kitchen, inspected the kids, and washed their faces again, and the kids devoured dinner.  Then they clamored for a story, and John promised to tell them one about a Technomage and a thief, and I was disappointed.  I wanted the one about the two Starship Captains myself.

John put them all to bed so he could tell them the story. He could tell a good story, but I thought that I could tell it slightly better.  Alexi was still worried about the bad man so John decided to let them sleep in his bed with him, so John could protect them.  It had taken a while to get settled in, as everyone wanted to be next to John, and they had brought bears and blankets to bed with them.  The kids quickly dozed off, and John was fading also.  When he was finally asleep, I gently kissed all four of them, and I left.

I tried to appear at the various milestones of their lives, but I wasn’t sure about how time ran in the afterlife.  I’d go to sleep, lying on the waterbed, and when I woke up, there would be changes in the room which signified that time had passed in the real world.  One day when I woke up, I found the invitation to the kids’ graduation from the Earth Force Academy lying on the bed. Already? Yesterday, they had just gone off to bordering school, and I had spent the day with John who was rather depressed about being alone again. I could tell that, as he had pulled out my old sweater to wear around the house, and he had been amused to see how it had been stretched out of shape by his pregnancy.  John had spent most of the day looking at his data crystals of the kids, and I enjoyed the chance to see how the children had grown up.

John. That’s not your biological clock ticking. I sent to him softly. Don’t even THINK about going through that again.

Graduating? Already?  Alexi was top student, while Zoë and Matt were in the top two percent of the class, so I was quite proud of them, as was Papa John.  John was by himself as Eilerson was ill and unable to travel so Sarah had stayed with him. Galen and Dureena had also decided to stay with him, and John was worried that another one of us might be lost from our circle of Excalibur family.

God, John had white hair and I quickly guestimated that he was in his late sixties now. I sat next to him, and I had my arm around him during the commencement exercises, just to give him some emotional support.  Who was I kidding? I needed the support myself, especially when Alexi gave his speech, and mentioned his two dads in it.

You did such a good job raising these hellions of ours, John. I sent that to him, and I hoped that John could hear me. I wasn’t sure, as John had tears in his eyes, which he was trying to wipe away. Our kids had turned out pretty damn well even if one of their fathers was a spirit jumping in and out of their lives.


“Ah? Rip Van Winkle? Do you think that you could wake up? I haven’t seen you in years, and when we finally meet up again, you’re snoring. Dear GOD! Is that where his blanket went? He was inconsolable for years after it disappeared.”

“I do not SNORE.” I answered tartly, wondering why the voice sounded so familiar. I opened an eye to see a very amused John Matheson. John? What was he doing here?

“I died, Matt. It happens to us all. Don’t panic, I had a very long and exciting life, full of great-grand children even.”


“Really. Now if you’ll move over a bit, then I can lie next to you, and tell you all about it. Little Alexi made Fleet Admiral, the first Telepath ever to do so, plus ending up almost six and a half feet tall.  Matthew ended up marrying Jaia, and Zoë. You won’t believe what Zoë did...”

He laughed.

"She is obviously your daughter..."

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