Lieutenant's Ship


by The Upholsterer

When Matt stepped into his quarters one early evening, John's mouth went dry. Matt was dressed in the cowboy hat and clothes he had worn down to the Technomage's planet with Galen. He had added a pair of soft leather gloves.

John licked his lips and stared at Matt. "You're wearing ... How did you know?"

Matt grinned, obviously enjoying the effect of his outfit on John. "I heard it in your dreams."

"Oh," John said, and just stood there.

Grinning wider, Matt strode across the room and picked up John, slinging him over his shoulder. Carrying him into the bedroom, he dropped John on the bed and straddled him. "How about we go for a ride? And then maybe we'll do a little ass-branding."

Not much later, John was laying on his back, with his ass propped up and his legs over Matt's shoulders. The Lieutenant was naked, but Matt was still fully clothed, including hat. Matt's cock extended out the fly in his pants, and buried itself in John's ass. His gloved hands stroked John's easily accessible cock.

John watched Matt hungrily, and forgot to blink the entire evening.


Yawning, John shifted carefully as to not disturb Matt. He flexed his toes inside their shoes and settled Matt's head more comfortably on his leg. Matt mumbled fitfully. "Shh," John looked down at his lover, his Captain. He touched the face that was pinched in sleep.

They were in Matt's quarters, on the couch. John had his legs propped up on the low table and Matt was asleep, his head resting on John's thigh, his hands wrapped around John's leg.

Matt slept curled up, like a child. Or like a soul who had had too many shocks, too much guilt and responsibility pressing upon it until the only refuge was unconsciousness.

This morning five of the Excalibur's crew had died. A shuttle accident, totally unexpected and absolutely unavoidable. But the Captain had raged in his grief, tearing through the evidence and the witnesses until even he could no longer avoid the conclusion that there was nothing anyone could have done. John knew, however, that Matt would take the blame and sorrow upon himself, adding the weight onto the great personal burden he carried in his deepest heart.

He had been waiting for Matt in his quarters after the staff meeting. Matt had said nothing, just grabbed him and held him tightly. He shed no tears, he never did. He had simply sat down next to John and buried his head in John's shoulder. Eventually, he had relaxed enough to lay his head on John's lap and close his eyes.

John ran his fingers through Matt's hair and stroked his cheek, murmuring nonsense. His fingers traced the shape of Matt's face, smoothing out the new lines in his forehead and around his mouth. He caressed his neck and shoulder, trying to assure Matt that he was there with him.

Matt's brow wrinkled and a whimper escaped his lips. John's chest ached at the sheer hopelessness of the sound.

He narrowed his eyes and stroked Matt's forehead, projecting gently ... peace ...






... love.

"I love you, Captain Matthew Gideon of the starship Excalibur." John said softly, words he would only say when he knew Matt could not hear. "I love you, Matt."

Something must have penetrated Matt's shroud of mourning, because he sighed quietly and snuggled closer to John.

Another moment and Matt seemed to be truly sleeping. John leaned back, his hands still resting lightly on Matt, and closed his own eyes.


Gideon stared unseeing at the monitor in front of him, and let the image float to the top of his mind. He was picturing Dureena in a bright pink jumpsuit, balancing a ball on her nose and dancing a jig. On the monitor, some ancient EarthForce General droned on and on. Gideon concentrated on holding his image steady.

It was an old game that John and him had invented a year or so ago. Gideon would think of something outrageous and John would give him just the lightest of telepathic touches, picking up the image. Then John would place his own outrageous image on the very surface of Gideon's thoughts. The person who cracked up first - laughed, gasped, or made any other sound or facial expression that couldn't be covered up in the public venue, lost the game.

The image of Dureena in a pink jumpsuit was replaced by Dureena in a leopard spotted bikini, juggling four knives and riding a unicycle.

Gideon tried Dureena juggling flaming torches while perched on the shoulders of Max, who was riding the unicycle.

John countered with Dureena, utterly naked, doing a intricate dance involving three scarves and a knife.

Hmm, Gideon thought, That image better not be from personal experience. Gideon let his eyes flicker towards John, but the Lieutenant was dutifully watching the General's speech. It was Dureena sitting next to John that almost made Gideon crack a smile. She was spinning a knife point first into the table and she met Gideon's eyes with upraised eyebrows. I bet that she is a very good ... dancer.

Quickly, Gideon smothered a smile and turned his eyes back to the monitor. Composing himself, he switched tactics. He constructed a image of John, naked and spread-eagled on the conference table.

John responded with an image of Gideon naked and spread-eagled on the conference table, and John, also naked, leaning against the table and fucking Gideon.

Gideon licked his lips, suppressing the spike of arousal the picture gave him. He thought for a moment, then gave John an image of Gideon fucking John on the table and Max standing next to them, watching intently and taking notes.

Gideon heard a choking cough behind him, but by the time he looked over, John looked serene and unperturbed. Turning back to the monitor, Gideon waited for John's next sally.

He got an image of John fucking Gideon on the table, with Max still taking notes, but also with Dr. Chambers standing there with a clipboard, conferring with Max and nodding thoughtfully.

Gideon added Dureena to the scene, doing her scarves and knife dance on an unused portion of the conference table.

John put in Galen, standing and clapping to the music as Dureena imprisoned the knife between her knees and dipped and shimmed with her scarves.

Gideon gave a short laugh, covered up quickly by a cough. Damn, was that it? He glanced over at John. John's eyes gave a quick circuit of the table, but nobody seemed to have noticed Gideon's laugh. John shrugged slightly. The game was still on.

Gideon pursed his lips. He took the scene that John had built, and inserted Trace Miller, up on the conference table and laughingly trying to grab Dureena's scarves as they whipped by. That table is getting pretty crowded.

John responded by stripping Trace down to some rather ugly looking boxers, orange with yellow flowers and green hearts, and giving Trace a few scarves of his own. Trace was not a particularly graceful dancer and kept tangling himself and Dureena in his scarves.

Gideon swallowed a snort of laughter, making an odd choking sound. Dr. Chambers looked at him from the other side of the table, her eyebrows raised. He shook his head, and the doctor shrugged and turned back to the doodles she was drawing all over her notepad.

He gave John a mental glare. John wasn't going to win this time. He always won.

Chewing on his lip, Gideon built a whole new scene. The rec hall. Let's see ... bubbles, all over the floor. Multicolored bubbles in reds and blues and purples, floating across the floor, swirling around the feet of everyone. He added a soundtrack, dance music with a steady beat.

Now for the dancers ...

John, naked except for a fuzzy bright orange wig on his head. Spinning in circles and then lurching dizzily.

Himself, wearing ... black leather pants attached to leather suspenders and a leather skullcap. Hopping up and down to the music.

Max dressed only in a vivid green top hat and a G-string made up entirely of four-leaf-clovers. Cavorting around the room in a passable imitation of an Irish Jig.

Dureena with her scarves, and with three knives now instead of one. Dancing gracefully then dropping a knife on her toes. Popping bubbles as she stumbles.

Sarah wearing only bunches of plastic flowers stuck in strategic places. She was waltzing with an invisible partner.

Trace in those ugly orange and yellow and green boxers. Following Max around on his knees, trying to get Max to dance with him.

And for the crowning touch ... Galen in the hot-pink jumpsuit Dureena had been wearing before. He was gripping his staff like a pogo stick, and bouncing around the room to the beat of the music.

Gideon concentrated fiercely on holding the scene together, with everyone dancing in their own way. He held it steady ...

Abruptly, from the other side of the table came a choking sound. Gideon looked over in time to see John, completely red-faced, jump out of his chair and run out of the staff room. From the hall came the sound of pent-up laughter.

"Yes!" Gideon said triumphantly.

The entire room, which had been staring after John, turned to stare at him. Gideon grinned and shrugged nonchalantly. "Probably swallowed his coffee wrong."

His staff continued to stare at him and he waved meaningfully in the direction of the monitor and the oblivious General. Eventually they all turned back to what they were doing before John's hasty exit, Dureena's eyes lingering on Gideon longest.

Gideon leaned back in his chair and grinned to himself. Oh, I'm gonna get a lot of teasing mileage from this one ...


Lieutenant Matheson paused outside his Captain's door and took a long breath to steady his voice. His heart was jumping as he prepared to carry out a long-time fantasy.

His voice was almost normal as he spoke into his earpiece. "Computer, emergency entrance override, silent mode. Authorization John Matheson."

The door beeped and slid open. John stepped inside and let the door slide close behind him as his eyes adjusted to the dark. There was a soft light coming from the direction of Matt's bedroom, and a soft snoring as well.

John smiled to himself and moved as quietly as he could to the door of the bedroom. Matt lay sprawled on the bed, taking up all of the space. He was wearing an old T-shirt and sweatpants. Matt had said once that he preferred to sleep naked, but he that wasn't wise when, as Captain, he could be woken up at any time. The sheets were tangled around him, giving testimony to a restless night. His face was flushed and very young.

John carefully crossed the room and crouched next to the bed. For a long moment, he just watched Matt sleep, the rise and fall of his chest, his eyelashes brushing his cheeks as his eyes flickered under their lids. One hand was stretched out, and John realized that the fingers brushed against the spot on his headboard where John had whimsically carved "MATT". The carving was already worn, like it had been rubbed many times.

Swallowing, John closed his eyes, and fought down the surge of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. He feared sometimes that he loved Matt too much, that the intensity of his devotion would someday swell up and shatter him from within. But that was the possible future. The very real Now lay before him, softly snoring.

John took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He turned his mind to the puzzle at hand. How was he going to get Matt out of his clothes without waking him? He could always use his mind to put Matt into deep sleep, but that didn't seem quite ... sporting.

His lips quirked. He could take a knife and cut him out of his clothes, but he doubted Matt would appreciate the destruction of what looked like a long-owned shirt and sweatpants. He knew from past experience that Matt was an erratic sleeper, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. He would just have to chance it.

John stood up and stepped over to the environmental controls. He programmed the room to slowly raise the temperature, so Matt wouldn't feel cool when his clothes were removed. He then programmed the room to begin playing some soothing music at an almost inaudible level. The music was to very gradually rise in volume. Hopefully that should help cover any noise John made. He moved back to the bed.

Shirt first. He took one of the blankets that Matt was tangled in and laid a corner across Matt's face. John held still as Matt twitched his nose then returned to sleep. Now he was accustomed to having something over his face. John touched one ear, tickling him lightly. As he hoped, Matt swung up the hand on that side and scratched his ear, the hand then falling back to the bed, laying above his head.

Licking his lips, John climbed carefully onto the bed, straddling Matt without touching him. He slid his hand underneath the blanket covering Matt's face and gripped the collar of the shirt. Luckily it was a loose collar and he was able to pull it slowly over Matt's chin. He left the shirt stretched over his chin, and pulled at the end of the sleeve of the arm that was above his head. Slowly, smoothly, he pulled the sleeve off and then the neck of the shirt over Matt's head. He pulled the T-shirt down the other arm.

He jerked it off the last inch and Matt stirred restlessly. John froze, balanced over Matt, the shirt held in both hands. Matt mumbled something and settled back to sleep.

John let out a quiet breath and moved off the bed. He lay the shirt on a chair and turned his attention to Matt's sweatpants. John carefully pinched a bit of sweatpant fabric and pulled it downwards, towards Matt's feet.

The waistband slid downwards a few inches and stopped. Breathing on his hands to make sure they weren't cold, John slid his fingers carefully under the waistband. He pulled gently on the worn elastic and lifted it up. He slid his other hand under the waistband as far towards Matt's ass as he could. He smoothly pulled the sweatpants downward, lifting the waistband over and past Matt's quiescent cock.

Biting his tongue was the only thing that kept him from breaking out in laughter. In the months that they had been lovers, John didn't think he had ever seen, for more than a few seconds, his Captain's cock at neutral. It was virtually always rigidly erect, or recently deflated. Who would have ever guessed that oh-so-in-control Matthew Gideon would turn out to be a total sex fiend? John bit his tongue on another spike of laughter. He didn't want to ruin things now by giggling.

After he got the sweatpants down over Matt's ass and balls, it was a simple task to pull each leg down slowly, over his feet, and finally completely off.

Now Matt was completely naked and still quite asleep. John held the sweatpants in one hand and rested the other hand on Matt's right ankle.

Abruptly, he got the powerful urge to twist the sweatpants into a rope and tie Matt's ankle to the leg of the bed. He could tie his other ankle down and then his wrists ...

Dear God ... Captain Matthew Gideon would make an superb Slave.

An image, vivid and complete, flashed into John's mind. He was standing above Matt who was kneeling on the floor, his head bowed. John was dressed from head to toe in dark blood red - a snug silk shirt, skin-tight pants, ankle boots, and soft red leather gloves. In one hand he held a deceptively innocent-looking loop of rope.

Matt was wearing all black leather and steel. A thick blindfold covered his eyes. His chest was bare save for two tit clamps, joined by a weighted chain. He was wearing black leather pants that were open in the crotch and ass. His arms were held firmly behind him, his wrists crossed and bound. A short chain ran from his wrists down to his shackled ankles. His cock was bound erect by a series of leather rings connected by padlocked steel bar. A weighted cage stretched out his balls.

Coming to himself, John blinked in surprise and shook his head a few times. Now where did that come from? The idea of Matt as ... dear God ... his Slave must have been building in his subconscious for a while, to suddenly toss out such a clear and detailed image. Certainly, he had done his own experiments with submission and domination. He had tried about everything at some point in his desperate drive to find something that captivated him as much as one particular EarthForce officer.

It was all too easy to see Matt in the role of Master. In fact, John had playacted being disciplined by his Captain more than once. But ... Matt submitting to someone, following their orders, giving up control?

John's lips quirked and he looked down at Matt, lying naked and unaware on the bed. Maybe it was just what the self-obsessed bastard needed. A little time away from saving the universe. Yes, John loved him fiercely, but he wasn't blind to the fact that Matthew Gideon was a paranoid control freak and sometimes a terror to serve under. Maybe it would be just what he needed.

But John would have to be very careful how he presented the idea. If he just walked into Matt's quarters one night with chains and shackles, Matt would jump out the nearest airlock.

Matt mumbled and turned on the bed.

Shaking himself, John returned to his current project. The other very ... intriguing idea would have to wait. He realized he was sweating, both from the raised room temperature and the strain of silently undressing Matt. He quickly stripped out of his own clothes.

Very slowly, he knelt on the bed over Matt, looking down at his face. He leaned over and breathed softly on his neck. He brought his hand up and placed it slowly on the warm skin. He ran the pads of his fingers down the skin, feeling the pulse beating just underneath.

Matt made a soft sound and turned his head to that side. John ran his fingers up the strong chin and lightly skimmed the full bottom lip. He ran his index finger over the arched eyebrows. A feather-light touch to his closed eyelids.

John had never been able to just explore Matt's face. Matt seemed more self-conscious about his face than any of the so-called private areas. John stroked the capable line of his cheekbones and jaw. His expressive face looked guileless in sleep. John ran a finger down his straight nose. He felt like he could watch Matt's sleeping face forever.

Abruptly, he shook himself.

He had come in here to wake Matt up with some steamy sex, and instead ended up mooning over him. This was at least the third time he had to remind himself to keep moving. If Matt woke up and found him here, before he had a chance to do anything, he would be teased forever ...

Licking his lips, John proceeded to wake Matt up, very very slowly. He placed a soft kiss on the side of Matt's neck, feeling his heartbeat under his lips. Moving lower, his breath skimmed over the naked skin of Matt's chest, causing the short curly hair to dance. He flicked his tongue across the sensitive pink nubs, circling each one with his tongue until he heard Matt's breathing began to quicken.

He hovered over his stomach, breathing on his skin, following the line of soft hair as it gathered into a "V" down his hips. He tickled the belly button with the tip of his tongue. Still blowing softly, he avoided the spots on Matt's hips where he knew he was ticklish, and traveled over to his thighs.

He placed his warm right hand on Matt's ankle and rested his other hand on Matt's hip. He trailed his hot breath up the inside of Matt's leg and bent forward to continue down the inner skin of the other leg. He placed a soft kiss on the jagged scar above Matt's right knee, a scar he hoped one day he would learn the story of.

Moistening his lips, he drew a line of kisses up the right inner thigh. Reaching Matt's cock, John grinned to see that it was already awakening. Did this man never rest? He blew softly on the dark hair at the base of his cock. He ran his tongue through the hair, tasting sweat and body oils. His breath outlined the cock from base to tip, then he followed with his tongue. He brought the hand that he wasn't leaning on up to cup the dangling balls.

Slowly, with tongue and lips and fingers, he teased Matt's cock to stiffness. With agonizing patience, he sucked and stroked Matt towards climax.

Matt's breath began coming short and fast, his mouth open and his tongue sliding over his lips. His eyelashes flickered against his cheeks. John felt the cock grow tight under his lips and Matt started gasping.

Abruptly, Matt's right hand grabbed John's leg and dug the fingers in. Matt's eyes shot open, staring at the ceiling. "God!" the cry ripped from his throat.

Matt's whole body arched. His hips shoved upwards and his balls spasmed. His cock spurted into John's mouth and down his throat. The fingers dug deeper into John's leg until every drop of his orgasm was pumped out.

His arched body and tight grip finally relaxed. Matt's head dropped back to the pillow with a thump. He blinked at John, his pupils wide and unfocused.

John grinned, sitting up and wiping his chin. "Good morning, Captain."

"How did you get in--my clothes--what's the--" Matt shook his head, still dazed. "God, John, you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Only if you call what I just gave you a heart attack..."

"Nooo..." Matt licked his lips, obviously trying to gather himself. "I could have thought you were a thief and punched you."

"I suppose that could have happened," John teased, crawling up to sit next to his chest, "But I doubt you would have been much of a challenge."

"Oh really? Come here!" Matt commanded, grabbing John by the ass and pulling him onto his chest. John laughed, surprised as always by how strong Matt was. He perched on Matt's chest, his knees spread out to each side. He placed his palms flat against the wall behind the bed's headboard.

Matt dragged him closer and took John's cock into his mouth with one big gulp. Letting out a choked moan, John pressed his face against the cool wall behind the bed.

A few short moments with Matt's mouth around his cock, and John moaned again and pumped his juices into Matt's waiting mouth. He sagged against the wall.

Matt pushed him off, and rolled over on top of him. John looked at him with slightly glazed eyes.

"Breakfast in bed," Matt grinned and bit John's ear. "What a luxury!"

John raised his eyebrows, "Don't expect it every morning!"

"No, some mornings I'll have to be the chef." Matt squinted towards his desk, "What time is it anyway?"

"Around 0715."

"Oh good, plenty of time for a second helping," Matt said, and began running his fingers down John's chest.

John smiled to himself as he returned Matt's attentions. Insatiable!


Gideon snuggled up against John. He had begun sleeping in John's bed about twice a week, with John doing the same number of nights in his. John's bed was becoming as familiar to him as his own, and much more interesting. But tonight he just wanted to hold John. He worried that John thought Gideon was taking advantage of him, that he had taken John's unexpected declaration of how much Gideon meant to him and turned it into something tawdry.

That wasn't what he had done, was it? Yes, it was true that he lusted after John constantly, that he couldn't seem to get enough of his muscular responsive body. He adored his shoulders, his ears, his thighs, the tiny mole on his stomach near his belly button. But it was more than that, wasn't it?

Maybe it was also for himself that he had initiated this evening. He had sat up against John's couch, John's back resting against his chest, and fed him them both dinner. Gideon had brought a tray from the dining hall that was mostly finger food, but it was still a messy process, dissolving them both into helpless laughter more than once.

Afterwards, they had talked the rest of the evening, always touching but never intimate. John had told him about his childhood and a little about his life in the Psi Corp, and Gideon had regaled him with some of the more hair-raising stunts he had gotten into because of his love of gambling.

When Gideon caught John yawning during his account of a near-death flight from the law on Praxis 12, he had declared it time for sleep.

"Sleep? Or bed?"

"Sleep," Gideon said firmly, and John had raised his eyebrows.

"Are you sure?"

"What do you take me for?" Gideon said growling playfully, leaning towards him, "A sex-crazed lunatic?"

"Well, if I may say, sir --"

"Don't answer that," Gideon laughed, covering up the sharp spike of pain he felt. He got to his feet, yawning himself, and wandered into John's bedroom. He pulled open a drawer and dug out a spare pair of his sweats that he kept buried there. Taking off his uniform and laying it carefully across the back of a chair, he tugged on the sweats.

He turned and John was standing in the doorway, watching him, his sculptured face unreadable.

Gideon tossed back the covers of the bed and climbed in. "Coming, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, Captain," John quickly undressed himself and pulled on the silk pants he liked to sleep in. He climbed in bed next to Gideon.

Gideon pulled him close, kissing his forehead tenderly. "You fit so perfectly in my arms."

"There is no place in the universe I'd rather be," John nestled into Gideon's shoulder and closed his eyes.

John had fallen quickly asleep, and now Gideon lay awake staring into the dark. The sweet hum of John's unfettered mind purring in the back of his own head.

He looked down at the face of his sleeping First Officer. He looked so young.

Gideon felt a rush of protectiveness, affection, love.


Gideon blinked. Where had that come from? Or had it been growing in him for years? He didn't love John ... or at least he didn't think so...

Dammit, how the Hell would he know? He didn't think he'd ever truly been in love in his life. This connection, this devotion, this fierce desire for John - body, mind and soul. Maybe that was love.


Did he love John Matheson, or was it just his own ignited sex drive talking?

Love was a meaningless word. Trust, trust he knew. Well, there was one way to prove to John and himself that he trusted him with his soul.

... If he had the nerve.


Gideon was afraid.

Alright, that's a little strong, Gideon thought to himself, but I'm sure as Hell not looking forward to this particular revelation.

But of all the people he needed to be able to trust, it was John that he needed most. It was far and away time that he told John about the Apocalypse Box.

He wished it was over.

He sat at his desk in his quarters and fiddled with a pen. He wished that John would just get here.

The door chimed. Gideon cleared his throat. "Enter."

John stepped through the door. Gideon took comfort from John's clean, professional appearance, from his calm capable aura. The door closed behind John and he turned to Gideon, patiently waiting for Gideon's cue as to whether he had asked him here for business or personal reasons.

Gideon closed his eyes and took a breath. He opened his eyes. "Lieutenant, John, I have something I would like to show you."

"Yes?" John's lips twitched but he didn't make the obvious retort that he had already seen everything Gideon had.

Gideon was glad of John's reserve. "I know that as my First Officer, you should be aware of any ... items of import on the ship."

John's face assumed his professional expression, "Yes, sir."

"As well, in our Search for the Cure, you should be aware of any ... sources of information that may aid us, especially if anything should happen to me."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, there is something I need to show you. I should have years ago, but ..." Gideon trailed off and shrugged helplessly.

John waited silently.

Reluctantly, Gideon pushed his chair back and got up from his desk. Making sure that John was watching, he flipped the hidden switch that made a section in the wall slide open. The wall revealed the Apocalypse Box. As always, Gideon was impressed by its alien beauty. He pulled out the box and set it on his desk. Then he looked up at John.

John had a little half-smile on his face, "Finally."

"What?" Gideon said in astonishment, "You knew?"

"Somewhat," John admitted, "I only had a general idea, but I knew that you had some sort of private oracle that you consulted, and it was hidden in your office. Besides, there is no way I could have missed a telepathic signature that big and that alien."

"Telepathic signature? So any Teep that steps on Excalibur would know?"

"No, it's fairly well shielded. I usually only notice it when I am actually in this room."

Gideon looked at his First Officer for a moment, and then shook his head in wonder. "I should have known that you had guessed. I should know that a pin doesn't drop on this ship without you knowing about it."

John blushed, "I try to keep tabs on everything."

Gideon shook his head again. He placed his fingers on the latches. "Want to see it?"


Gideon twisted open the intricate latches, revealing the pulsing green core of the box. It was silent for the time being, save its ever-present hum. Gideon stared at it for a moment then looked over at John.

John was nowhere to be seen.

"John?" Gideon said, bewildered. Then he caught a glimpse of John's uniform and his heart lurched to a stop. John was collapsed on the floor in front of Gideon's desk, his hands clapped over his ears and his face white.

Gideon fumbled the box closed as quickly as he could, shoved it unceremoniously back into its wall shelf and slammed the door shut. He sprinted around the desk, and threw himself to the floor. He gently lifted John into his lap.

John was still breathing, but shallow.

"Medical Emergency," Gideon shouted into his wrist communicator, "My quarters, NOW!"

Helplessly, Gideon stroked John's pale face. "God, John, I'm so sorry."

John's eyelids fluttered open. He looked past Gideon into some unknown space. "Cold," he whispered, "so cold."

Gideon grabbed his jacket off of the desk and wrapped John in it.

"Alien," John said very softly, "And hates, it hates so much."

"Hates who?" Gideon asked, at the same time kicking himself for exposing John to this danger.

"Hates ... everyone. Wants ...." John trailed off.

"Wants? What does it want, John?"

"Wants ... death ..." John's eyes closed and his head rested against Gideon's arm.

"John? John?" Gideon shook him, thinking frantically of some first aid rule that says to keep the patient awake.

John didn't respond.

Gideon checked him quickly. He seemed to be breathing okay, his pulse was weak but there. Was it wishful thinking or was John's face a fraction of a shade less pale?

He could only hold John, rocking him in his arms. It felt like an eternity, but it must have been only a few moments before door crashed open and the trauma team raced in.

They swiftly took control of the situation, taking John from Gideon's arms and examining John with various mysterious medical devices.

"What happened?" One tech snapped at Gideon.

"Telepathic shock," Gideon responded instantly.

In thirty seconds, they had John up on a stretcher and out the door, leaving Gideon sitting on the floor alone. He buried his head in his hands. How could I be so stupid? How could I expose John to it full strength? He said it had a big telepathic signature even when it was locked up. Stupid, stupid ...


Three very long hours later, Gideon was standing next to a table in medbay, watching Dr. Chambers tease John about faking a medical emergency just to see her.

Indeed, John looked completely recovered, though he reluctantly admitted to a lingering headache.

Chambers did a few more tests, mumbled some doctor-like phrases, then left John with Gideon.

"I'm so sorry--" Gideon started.

"No," John interrupted him firmly, "I'm glad that you showed it to me. And, however painful, that one telepathic touch gave me more information than I could have learned in a year of looking at it through the outer box."

"What kind of information?" Gideon shook his head, "Damn, that sounds so cold. You get knocked out because I'm being stupid, and then I just want to know what you found out."

"It's okay, Matt," John said softly but with conviction. He couldn't touch Gideon in public, but his voice and his eyes were like a caress.

Gideon wanted to put his arms around John so much it was like an ache. He gripped his hands behind his back and promised himself that he could hold John all night. Just that brief terrifying glimpse into what it would be like to lose John shocked him to the root of his soul. Never, never, never ...

Some of what Gideon was feeling must have showed on his face, because John cleared his throat and answered his earlier question in a normal tone of voice. "What did I learn about the Box? It's Vorlon tech."

Gideon blinked, "Vorlon?"

"Sure," John shrugged, "The Shadows seem to have left their technology scattered around like garbage when they left, why not Vorlons?"

"And we are in a ship whose design was largely based on Vorlon tech," Gideon agreed slowly. "But you said it hated everyone. Is it alive?"

"I don't think it's alive, per se," John said, rubbing his temples. "It's an organic machine, like the Vorlon ships, but also very intelligent and very, very old. I think it helps you since it's bored. But if it saw a way to end its existence, to die? It would do it without a second wasted."

"It can't be killed by, oh, blowing up my ship?"

John shook his head then immediately blanched and held his head.

"Doctor?" Gideon called out.

"No, no," John waved off a concerned Dr. Chambers, "I just need some sleep." John continued, "If it could have died by destroying the Excalibur, it would have done already."


"But I think it can't be killed by any ordinary means, and it doesn't itself know how it can die."

"Hmm ... I wonder if while it's supposed to be helping me find the Cure, it's really looking for its own death."


Gideon sighed, "I never trusted it, but I trust it less now. But it has given us some good leads."

"Yes." John suddenly looked tired and drawn.

"Let me help you to your quarters?"

"Alright," John smiled faintly, "But I don't think it would be a good idea for you to carry me."

"I don't think my back would like it, either."

"I haven't seen your back give out yet, when it's had ample opportunity."

Gideon chuckled and waved for a med tech to bring him a wheelchair.


"Damn, Damn, Damn," John swore, kicking an innocent chair. "Why now?"

He glared out the viewport at the object of his ire. Babylon 5 floated peacefully in space above Epsilon 5. It was quite beautiful actually, projecting a sense of strength and refuge.

John hated it.

Things had been going so well between him and Matt. A sweet blissful period of sex and other intimacies. Some of the most wonderful moments of John's life, in fact. And then the damned Search for the damned Cure led the Excalibur to Babylon 5 and therefore to damned Elizabeth Lochley.

John clenched his hands and forced himself to breathe calmly. There was nothing wrong with Captain Lochley. She was a competent commander of Babylon 5, a difficult task, and she was smart, attractive, witty, forceful, and God, John hated her.

No, no, no, you don't hate her. You are just flaming jealous.

John closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against the cool glass.

He shouldn't have been in the room when the Captain called Babylon 5 and told Lochley that they were coming. He shouldn't have listened when Gideon greeted her warmly and she had called him Matt.

No one can call him Matt but me! He had wanted to shout at her. He wanted to tell Lochley to wipe that welcoming grin off of her face because the Captain of the Excalibur wouldn't be visiting her bed this time. But he couldn't say either. Matt hadn't discussed it, but he had perked up when it was determined that the latest trail led them to Babylon 5. A smile had settled on his lips as he had sat back in his chair and told John to set course for the station.

Maybe Matt would be making love to Lochley again. His lips on hers. Her hands on his warm skin. Maybe he would decide that sex with a woman was much better than that with a man. Than sex with his problematic First Officer.

Matt was probably over there now, sitting in her office, trading innuendoes over coffee, making plans for this evening.

John kicked the chair again. "Damn, damn, damn,"

His door chimed. Dureena had mentioned something about going shopping on the promenade. Well, at least it would be something, getting to watch Dureena not stealing. "Come in," he said, still staring out the window.


John's heart leapt into his throat and he spun around to see Matt looking at him questioningly. The door slid closed behind him. John vaguely noticed that Matt was not in uniform, but wearing tan slacks and tight black shirt that showed his sinewy muscles. He carried a non-descript jacket over one arm.

Matt cocked his head at the odd expression that John knew he had on his face. "Were you expecting someone else?"

"Maybe Dureena, but ... I thought you would have gone over to the station already."

"It's Dr. Chambers that has all the work to do this time. We just had to get her here." Matt raised his eyebrows. "But you knew that already. Why would you think that I would have already gone over to the station --" "Oh," Matt's face cleared. "You thought I would go see Elizabeth."

John felt a blush creep over his face. He looked down at his hands. "You usually do."

Matt dropped his jacket and was across the room in two steps, gathering John into his arms. "That was before I had you," Matt said, placing a smacking kiss on John's forehead.

A knot formed in John's throat. "I have no claim on you."

"Nonsense," Matt said firmly, "You must have nearly branded my ass about five, ten times now."

John tried to swallow. "You know what I mean."

"I do," Matt said lightly, "But I came here to get you and take you over to the station."

"Oh?" John started to smile, "And what are we going to do there?"

"Well, there are nice restaurants, shops and stuff, the central gardens are gorgeous ..."


Matt's face lit up with a wolfish grin than did terrible things to John's heart rate. "I know a few places in Down Below where we can really get into trouble ..."

John laughed, his heart achingly light. "Really ..."

"Yes," Matt shook his head, "but you can't go there in uniform. You'll have to change into civvies."

"Alright," John turned away and began pulling off his jacket.

Matt grabbed him from behind, lifting him off the floor. "To get dressed, you'll have to get undressed first. Let me help you with that."

Laughing, John let Matt drag him over to the couch and dump him on it. "What about the station and Down Below?"

"It'll still be there later when we need it." Matt said, climbing onto the couch and straddling John's legs. "That's one of the great things about Babylon 5."

"I've always loved that place," John murmured, pulling Matt's lips down to meet his.


Late one afternoon, Gideon strode into medbay. His eyes scanned the area until he found Dr. Chambers. He walked over to where she was staring down at a stack of paperwork

"Dr. Chambers?"

She looked up, startled. "Captain?"

"Do you have a moment?"

"What's wrong?" Sarah stood up quickly, her face concerned.

Gideon stepped closer to her and lowered his voice. He felt a blush rising in his cheeks. "I wonder if you could look at a rash or something I have."

"Alright," Sarah looked confused, "why don't sit there on one of the examination tables?"

"It's kind of ... in an embarrassing area."

"Oh," Sarah's face cleared and she assumed a clinical air. "Please come over to Examination Room One, then."

Avoiding the curious glances of the other Medbay's occupants, Gideon followed Sarah to the small private room. Sarah closed the door behind them and then turned to him. "What is the problem?"

"A rash," Gideon said, "On my ..." he gestured towards his crotch.

There might have been a twinkle in her eyes but Sarah's face assumed a professional mask. "Please take off your pants and sit up on the table." She turned away while Gideon fumbled with his pants and underwear, pulling them off and tossing them over a chair. He sat awkwardly on the edge of the examining table, fighting the urge to cover himself with his hands. Sarah was tugging on some medical gloves.

Sarah turned back towards him and Gideon pointed to the patch of red dots that he had discovered on his penis this morning. Making the time-honored Doctor's hmming sound, Sarah took Gideon's penis in his hand and examined the area thoroughly. Gideon quickly disconnected his mind from his body and stared at the wall over Sarah's shoulder. Sarah hmmed again and released him, peeling off her gloves. "You can get dressed now."

She rummaged through a drawer in the wall cabinet as Gideon quickly pulled on his underwear and pants.

After he was finished, Sarah gestured him to sit in a chair. She crossed her arms, leaning back against the cabinet. "It could be an allergic reaction. Have you used any new cleansers or lubricants lately?"

Gideon shook his head. Lubricants? Why does she think I need those? And she didn't even ask me about sexual partners ...

She held out a tube that she had removed from the drawer. "Regardless, I'd like you to change to this lubricant. It is very basic and virtually never causes an allergic reaction."

Gideon took the tube of lubricant, his face carefully neutral.

"Or," Sarah said casually as she tossed the gloves into the disposal unit, "it might be an overuse rash. You and John might want to take it easy for a few nights."

Gideon's hands froze where they were fastening his pants and his heart gave a great lurch. "What did you say?" His voice came out low and dangerous.

Sarah held up her hands defensively. "Don't worry, Captain, I won't tell anyone. I wouldn't do that."

Gideon thought about trying to deny it, but knew it would be useless. He covered his eyes with his hands. "Damn. Is it that obvious?"

"No, actually," Sarah said, grinning widely. "But thanks for confirming it. Dureena told me. I never would have guessed myself."

Gideon looked up at her. "Dureena?"

"Of course. What do you think she does all day, sharpen her knives? Even Dureena doesn't have that many knives. And she's already fleeced anyone on the ship stupid enough to gamble with her. While we are going about our daily jobs, she has to do something. So she practices her skills."

He raised his eyebrows. "Thieving."

"Yeah, but she told me she always replaces things before they are missed. Mostly she just watches people. She saw through you two."

"And she told you?"

"She was so delighted that she had to tell someone, and she knew that I wouldn't talk."

"Delighted?" he repeated, his voice showing his surprise. "Sure," Sarah grinned at him, "You two are perfect for each other. You make a wonderful team. Without you, John would be too solid, too cautious. Without John, you would be even more of a menace to space than you are.

She continued. "Dureena was, and I am, just happy that John and you finally figured it out. I don't know how things are going to work out. And I do know about EarthForce rules about relationships between people in the same chain of command, but who cares? Grab life where you find it, I say. Choose passion over rules any time."

Gideon blinked at her, realized that his jaw was hanging open and closed it with a click. "I'm glad you approve."

Sarah broke out laughing. "He's been good for you, you know. You are a bit ... easier to deal with most days."

Frowning, Gideon began, "Do you think --"

"No," Sarah interrupted, "I don't think anyone else has really noticed, or at least attributed it to anything specific. And who figured that straight-arrow Matheson would do anything so against Regulations."

Gideon grinned, "I've discovered that John is not as innocent as he looks."

"I'll bet," Sarah grinned back. Then her face became serious. "But what are you going to do when John's telepath watchdog arrives? They've shown they're willing to take John down for much lighter offenses."

Gideon rubbed his chin, his eyes troubled. "We don't know what we are going to do. I'm working on it."

"I'm not really fond of those watchdogs myself. What a terrible thing for John to have to go through every six months. If there is anything I can do to help," Sarah said, "let me know."

Gideon looked at her face and read the sincerity there. "I will remember that, Doctor. You can bet I will."


When Gideon walked into John's quarters one night a week later, he could tell something unusual was planned. They both had a day off scheduled for tomorrow, a day they planned on spending in each other's arms. Or perhaps recovering from tonight's exertions.

The front room was dim. He could see candles glittering through the bedroom door. John was dressed in a loose kimono-like jacket and silk pants, the black fabric accentuating his hair, eyes. His arms were folded together and he stood next to the bedroom door. His stance was strong, his bare feet set apart on the carpet.

He looked dark, dangerous, and Gideon shivered.

"What is it?" Gideon asked, stepping farther into the room, trying to read John's expression.

"Do you trust me, Matt?"

Gideon halted. "You know I do."

"Do you trust me?" John asked again.

"Yes, I do."

"Do you trust me?" John asked, his voice husky.

Gideon stared at him, somewhat alarmed. "I would trust you with my life."

"Come here."

Gideon raised his eyebrows and walked across the room. He stopped just before John, folding his own arms. "What are you planning?"

John licked his lips, looking nervous for a moment. Then he lifted up his chin, his eyes boring into Gideon's. "Give yourself to me."

"Haven't I already --"

"Completely," John interrupted, "Give up all control. All self-will. All power." "I don't understand."

Abruptly, John stepped towards Gideon and laid his hand flat on his chest. "Let go of it all, Matt." John's voice was raw with emotion. "Let go of your responsibilities, this ship, your guilt, pressures, your past and your fears for the future. Leave it all here and step away from it for a while."

Gideon swallowed and stared at John, his heart racing. Could he really do it? Leave the whole damned universe behind him and put himself utterly in someone else's hands?

"Step through this door behind me." John continued, "And when you go through this door, you will no longer be Captain, or Matthew Gideon, or even Matt. I will not be Lieutenant or John. You will be Slave and I will be Master."

John added quickly, "But if you are at anytime uncomfortable with what we are doing, just say my full name, John Matheson, or shake your head three times and we will stop instantly."

All of Gideon's paranoid nature rebelled against what John was suggesting, but part of him found the idea desperately attractive. Just for a while, to leave behind the goddamned plague, the endless pointless battles, the control he had to wield over everyone, over his ship.

"Alright." Gideon said at last. He didn't miss the flash of triumph in John's eyes.

"Remember, you can stop if it becomes too much."

Gideon glanced over John's shoulder where he could see half glimpses of ... something. He closed his eyes and took a long breath, blowing it out slowly. He opened his eyes and looked directly at John. "Lieutenant, I give you my ship."

"Captain, I accept," John replied in that intriguing husky way. He stepped away from the doorway, "Close your eyes, walk five steps forward and kneel down."

Gideon felt a shiver travel the length of his body. He let out another deep breath and closed his eyes again. He took a step cautiously forward, his hands before him. He counted out four more steps, and wobbled a little as he sank to his knees.

He heard a soft sound behind him and felt John's hand on his head. He started to lean back, towards John, but the hand stopped him.

"Did I tell you to lean back, Slave?" John's voice was hard, sensual, commanding.

Gideon froze, and cleared his throat. "No."

"What did you say?"

Gideon cleared his throat again, which had somehow grown thick. "No, Master."

"You will not move unless I tell you to. You will not speak unless I tell you to. I will allow you to breathe, for now. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Master." He was filled with delicious apprehension, like the first deal of a high-stakes card game.

Something soft slid over his face. A scarf? A blindfold? John's fingers tied a knot behind his head.

"Open your eyes, Slave. Tell me if you can see. I will know if you are lying."

Gideon slowly opened his eyes. "I can see some light, Master."

"Good boy." The blindfold was tightened. "Now?"

"No, Master."

John's warm lips were against his, his tongue briefly flickering over Gideon's lips. He moved away when Gideon began to kiss him back.

"Obedience is rewarded." John's voice was close to his ear. He could smell the scent of him. He wanted to reach up and grab him. He clenched his hands into fists with the effort of controlling himself.

"Take off your jacket and shirt, but don't remove the blindfold."

Gideon shrugged carefully out of his jacket and pulled off his shirt.

"Now, give me your right hand. I will pull in a direction and you will follow me, on your knees."

Gideon reached out his right hand and found his wrist gripped by a firm hand. A pull to his right and he stumbled on his knees in that direction. The pull stopped.

"Your other hand."

Gideon reached out his left hand and found himself being turned sideways. The hand moved to grip his lower arm.

He felt something smooth and thick wrap around his wrist. "What the Hell?" Gideon jerked his hand away.

He heard a tsking sound and felt a sharp sting at the back of his neck. He reached up his hand but by the time he touched his neck the pain had already faded into nothing, replaced by a small spot of warmth.

John's voice was at his ear. "Disobedience is punished."

Gideon swallowed. Inside, he was at war with himself. He didn't need this. Goddamnit, he was Captain, he should just get up and walk away from this madness. Who was John to ... But God, he wanted to leave it all behind just for a while.

And John was above him. He could feel the heat, the strength radiating from him. He could hear the soft draw of his breath as he waited for Gideon to make a decision. Tonight, he was seeing a whole new side of John, the power and presence he would one day wield as a Captain of his own ship. It was intoxicating.

Gideon knew now was the real decision point. Before he had been curious, but now he had a bit more of an idea what he was agreeing to.

Utter surrender.

               Sweet surrender.

                                           John ...

... surrender.

Gideon lifted up his wrist, back to where it had been. A firm hand grabbed it and slipped it into what felt like a rope covered with soft fabric. The loop pulled tight.

John's warm mouth was on his neck, sucking gently on the spot where the sharp sting had been a moment before. The softest of whispers, "You won't regret it."

John moved away, and the command returned to his voice. "Slave, your other hand."

Without a pause, Gideon lifted his hand and felt it slide into another soft loop, which closed around it. Both loops tightened and pulled upwards. He felt his shoulders rise and stretch apart. Not uncomfortable yet, just firmly locked into place. He heard John move away from him. Sounds like a drawer opening and closing. A scratching sound. Gideon strained his ears, trying to listen without looking like it.

"Does the Slave want to know what I am doing?"

Gideon hesitated, trying to decide if he has allowed to speak. "Yes, Master."

"You will find out soon enough," John trailed his fingernails across Gideon's bare chest. "It may be pleasure or it may be pain." John's voice grew rough. "Or it may be both."

Gideon turned his head, following the sound of John's movements. His nostrils flared as he caught a whiff of ... smoke?

Something touched his back and he jumped involuntarily. But it was soft, light - a feather? The feather traveled across his bare back, delicately tickling him. The feather ran over his shoulder blades and up his spine. It traveled over his shoulder, down across his chest, over his stomach.

He had just gotten used to that sensation, when he fell a drop of liquid -- hot, burning! His skin shuddered and he tried to move the shoulder that had gotten singed. He was firmly tied in place. The liquid was cooling in place and he recognized melted wax. As soon as he realized he really hadn't been burnt, another scalding drop on his chest. He bit his lower lip to keep from crying out.

Another burning drop on his neck. His lower back. Left shoulder. Right wrist. Right cheek.

He turned his head, trying to locate John, but his movements were near soundless.

Burning drop on his stomach. Shoulder blade. Rib cage. Left ear. Lower back. Right nipple.

A pause, and he waited anxiously for the next drop of wax.

The next drop was on his left shoulder -- no wait. Not hot ... cold!

He jerked reflexively and the piece of ice slid down his back, leaving a searing trail.

"Don't move," John commanded. More ice, piece by piece, was placed in a line along both the top of his shoulders and up his arms.

Gideon gritted his teeth and tried to hold himself still. The row of ice along his shoulders and arms burned, burned ...

One piece of ice melted enough on his hot skin and it marked a frigid path down his arm and the side of his ribcage.

Another melted and slid slowly down his chest.

A third piece skidded down his right shoulder blade.

Another and another until his upper body was scored with icy trails, each melted ice travelling its own path and speed.

Then suddenly, a drop of hot wax on his left shoulder.

A moan escaped from between his clenched teeth.

An eternity of cold and heat as the ice continued to melt and the hot wax dropped a random intervals.

He was trembling uncontrollably, whether from the ice and wax or the sheer glut of sensations, he couldn't tell.

Finally, the last piece of ice reached his stomach and vanished into his soaking waistband.

He sat, trembling in the darkness of his blindfold, waiting for the next drop of wax or something entirely new.

A soft touch and he flinched then realized it was a towel. John dried off his back and chest, somehow wiping away each drop of cooled wax as he went.

"You did well, Slave." John's husky voice said, drying his upraised arms. John had a sure firm touch with the towel and Gideon was able to take a long breath and slow his trembling.

John moved away and Gideon felt slack in the ropes which kept his wrists tied up high. The soft loops remained around his wrists, but loosened enough that he was able to drop his wrists to his sides. Blood rushed to his hands and his shoulders cried out in stiffness and pain. He wondered whether he would be allowed to stretch and roll his shoulders.

Before he could decide, John's hands were on his shoulders, strong palms massaging the knots that had formed, kneading back to life his stiff muscles.

The hands left his shoulders and fingernails trailed across his sensitized back. "Stand up."

Gideon struggled to his feet, his legs stiff. His heart was pounding and he waited anxiously, eagerly for the next activity, like turning over the next card in a high stakes poker game.

He heard John move away, a few clicks and beeps from a computer console, and music filled the room. It wasn't like anything he had heard before, complex and melodic, with a subtle exotic flavor. The music grew quieter, but still loud enough.

Damn. Gideon realized that he could no longer distinguish any sounds of John's movement. Which is what he intended.

Suddenly, John was at his waistband, his fingers digging into Gideon's stomach as he roughly unfastened his pants and dragged them down over his hips. He left his pants around his knees, and lifted up his feet, one and then the other, stripping off his shoes and socks, then pulled the pants the rest of the way off.

John's fingers appeared at the waistband of his underwear and the soft cloth was ripped away, the tearing sound loud in Gideon's ears.

"Hey!" Gideon automatically protested, then bit his lip.

"Did I tell you that you could speak?" John demanded.

Gideon shook his head, still biting on his lip.

"Someone still thinks he's in control here," John grabbed Gideon's cock, which sometime in the last few minutes had grown firm and erect. "Did I tell you that you could get hard?" He pinched the head of the cock sharply. Gideon eyes watered and he shook his head again.

John released him and he stood in an agony of anticipation. Probably the stinging thing again.

When John grabbed his cock again, he thought he was prepared. But he gasped as John slid something smooth and cool over his cock. Leather, with touches of metal? A tight circle squeezed around the base of his cock, keeping it erect. His balls were compressed and stretched apart and held in place by two more leather and metal circles. It wasn't uncomfortable, just very confining. There was no way he was going to be able to have an orgasm until it was removed. What the hell is that thing?

John was at his feet, and forcing him to lift up his right foot. A soft loop like the one that held his wrists wrapped around his ankle. His left foot was also captured. A tug at the rope and his wrists were lifted over his head again, his feet pulled by the ropes until they spread apart. He was held spread-eagled in the middle of the room.

Gideon swallowed. He was beginning to feel like he was in way over his head and things were rapidly spiraling out of control. Out of his control.

John stepped up against him, Gideon's awkward position making them about the same height. The full body length of soft kimono rubbed against him. Trapped between their bodies, the rings around Gideon's cock and balls pressed into his skin.

Gripping Gideon's face between his hands, John kissed him firmly, prying Gideon's mouth open with his tongue. His tongue plunged into Gideon's mouth, playing with his cheeks and tongue. Gideon tentatively kissed back and, when no correction happened, he kissed John with more fervor.

John allowed the kiss to lengthen and intensify then abruptly bit Gideon's lip, drawing blood. Gideon jerked away but John went with him, sucking the drops of blood from Gideon's lip. Gideon felt dizzy at the sheer sensuality of it.

His cock was aching in its leather cage. He needed to stop this now, before he completely vanished into this storm of sensation.

John stepped away from him and he swayed. Now was the time to say John's full name and end this.

His nose caught a whiff of something and John's finger touched his lip, leaving a drop of something. Carefully, he reached his tongue. Honey. Flavored with mint.

John's finger returned to his lips, sticky with honey. Gideon opened his mouth quickly, pulling the finger in and sucking it clean. His tongue and mouth were a swirl of honey and mint and blood. The finger was pulled away and Gideon licked his lips for the last trace of honey.

His nose crinkled, he smelled something else, warm and spicy. Now, Gideon, end it now!

John placed his hands flat on Gideon's chest. The heat of his hands seemed to be intensified, an perception that strengthened as John began to rub his hands over his chest, massaging and kneading. The new smell was coming from an oil that was on John's hands, which warmed as he massaged it into Gideon's skin.

John's strong hands dug into Gideon's muscles, heating and loosening them. The hands worked their way across his chest, shoulders, upper back, lower back, sides. John returned to his front and rubbed a nipple between each thumb and forefinger.

Softly, John placed a kiss on Gideon's neck and trailed his tongue up the side of Gideon's face, all the time squeezing and pulling his nipples. Gideon sucked his lower lip into his mouth. His brain felt on fire, his treacherous body desperate for more of John's touch.

"Are your tits ready, Slave?" John asked against his jaw.

Gideon opened his mouth but couldn't seem to make a sound.

John bit his earlobe.

Gideon tried again. "Yes, Master," His voice sounded thick and strange to his ears. A part of his mind was screaming, Stop now! Stop now!

John's teeth left his ear and he moved away. Gideon was left standing alone, shaking with the force of his internal struggle.

The soft towel wiped his nipples, removing all traces of the oil, leaving them dry and throbbing. He felt a touch cool and metallic against his skin, and then something was clamping onto his nipples, tightening. He cried out in surprise, the pressure shooting straight through his body to his pulsing cock.

"Does my Slave enjoy having his tits pinched?" John's voice was teasing, pleased.

Gideon threw back his head and groaned "Yessss", utterly succumbing to the pleasure throbbing through his body. He felt like a great beast that had been sitting on his chest had suddenly taken wing, leaving him feeling light and slightly giddy.

John stepped away for a moment then returned, his hands slick again with the massage oil. Passing by Gideon's ass, John dug his fingers into the muscles on Gideon's thighs and worked his way downward, kneading and setting on fire each muscle, each inch of skin. He didn't neglect Gideon's feet, but squeezed and pressed each foot, pinching each toe individually. He worked his way back up his other leg, until Gideon's entire body, except for his ass, was ablaze with arousal.

John's hands then turned to Gideon's ass, but they didn't massage, only lightly skimmed the skin. Gideon's asshole was throbbing, desperate for John's touch. Gideon shoved himself back into John's hands, and immediately realized that was a mistake.

He felt the sharp sting followed by warmth against his asscheek, and another sting and another, tracing a line towards his ... "God, no!" he cried out and the sharp pain bit into his asshole - once, twice, three times. He tensed as the pain shot up his ass.

He was panting as the sting settled into a pulsing warmth. His asshole was aching, wanting to be filled.

John's clothed body pressed up against his back, his voice in Gideon's ear. "Do you want me to fuck you?" Gideon swallowed at the throaty sensuality of John's voice.

"Yes, Master," Gideon pleaded.

"Do you think you deserve to be fucked by me?"

"Yes, Master," he replied. Wrong answer.

"Really?" John purred, "I don't think you have earned it yet."

Gideon's mouth went dry. "No, Master."

John's hands left his ass and he expected another return of the stinger.

Gloriously, one of John's fingers slid into his asshole, slick with lubricant. Gideon groaned in relief. The finger withdrew, and Gideon waited anxiously for its return.

Abruptly, instead of something warm and alive, he felt something cold and solid slide into his ass. He tightened in surprise, and found his ass was filled with a thick oblong shape, which gave slightly as he squeezed. The thing's end was flared, pressing up against his asshole. Where did John get these things? He wiggled his ass experimentally, feeling the strange full sensation, the stretching of his ass around the hard foreign object.

"Why don't you get used to that for a few moments," John said, obviously amused at his reaction. "I have something else to prepare."

A rustle of clothing and Gideon felt alone in the room. He turned his head on his shoulders, trying to ease the tightness in his neck. He became conscious of the fact that his hands were gripped into fists and he carefully flexed his fingers.

A sound in the doorway.

A voice. "Well, this is interesting."

Gideon froze in place, his heart thudding. "John?"

"Nooo," said a too familiar sardonic voice, "Looks like your playmate has stepped out for a moment."

"Max? What the hell are you doing here?" Gideon pulled at his bonds, but he was fastened tight.

"Just came by to check on something with the Lieutenant, but this is not what I expected to find ..." Gideon could hear the delight in Eilerson's voice. "Much more interesting."

"Get out of here, Max," Gideon commanded. It sounded weak even in his ears.

Max laughed out loud. Gideon heard footsteps on the carpet and the rich voice moved closer. "And miss out on such a opportunity?"

"John!" Gideon shouted.

Max sounded right in front of him. "He's not here."

"Dammit, leave!" Gideon said through gritted teeth.

"Can't see anything?" He felt a breeze as if Max had just waved his hand in front of Gideon's blindfolded face. "Captain, Captain. What have you gotten yourself into?"

"Go away," Gideon said again, futilely.

"Hmm, can't move either." Gideon had no trouble picturing the smirk on Max's face. "In fact, you wouldn't be able to do anything about it if it did this."

Gideon felt a finger on his chest and flinched. "Don't touch me!"

"What are you going to do about it?" The warm finger trailed across his chest, "The Captain tied up by his First Officer. I should take a picture. Makes that data crystal incident seem paltry, hmm?"

Gideon winced. "I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement."

"Very tempting," Max's hand wandered up his arm, testing the strength of Gideon's ties, "I'll have to think of what would be ... fitting."

"You can have that extra storage space you wanted," Gideon said through a locked jaw.

"Oh, no. This is worth much more than that."

Gideon felt a touch on his pinched nipples. "Lovely nipple clamps you have here," Max pulled mercilessly on the tight clamps, "I'll have to ask the Lieutenant where he got them."

Gideon tried to ignore him. He was trying to think what would make Max leave but his mind seemed mired in the haze of sensation that John had created in him. Self-will seemed to have melted away with the ice and candle wax.

Max tugged on the clamps again, and Gideon was embarrassed to find that Max's touch was sending surges of pleasure down his trapped body. He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to avoid making any noise. Of all the people to walk in, it had to be the person who would most love to take advantage of his powerlessness. Max stopped pulling at his nipples and Gideon was able to take a breath again.

"Well, now, look at this." Max's strong fingers slid down his chest and stomach, stopping just short of his patch of pubic hair. "You seem to be quite thoroughly restrained but still sporting an impressive erection. Useful little device."

"Don't ..." Gideon said. Despite himself, his voice displayed the helplessness he was feeling.

Chuckling deep in his chest, Max stroked one finger down Gideon's stiff cock.

Gideon gasped, his balls spasming in their leather cage."God, have some mercy."

"Mercy?" The smirk was back in Max's voice. "I didn't know that word was in your vocabulary." He fondled Gideon's aching imprisoned balls.

A groan escaped Gideon's lips and he immediately flushed, mortified. Max laughed wickedly, squeezing his balls and pinching the end of his cock. Gideon tasted blood as his teeth tightened on his inner cheek.

Seeming to tire of this play, Max released him. Gideon took a shuddering breath.

Too soon, as Max had ducked around behind him and discovered Gideon's butt plug. Max jiggled the plug and Gideon's breath whooshed out.

"Most decorative," Gideon felt the hard length twisting inside his inflamed asshole.

The plug was moving back and forth and suddenly Max pulled it completely out. Gideon gasped and involuntarily shoved his ass back into Max's hand.

"What a slut you are, Captain," Max purred, rubbing Gideon's asshole with the tip of the lubricant-smeared plug. "You'll open your ass for anyone."

"No!" Gideon protested, "Only ... John." His voice came out in gasps while Max shoved the plug in and out of his ass.

"I'll bet," Max plunged the hard wedge all the way back in. Gideon groaned, his knees turning to water.

Max pinched his asscheek and ran a hand up his bare back. Gideon's skin seemed to sizzle under Max's powerful fingers, so different than John's smaller ones.

Damn him, damn him ... Gideon was defenseless against his touch. He felt like he was only a bundle of nerve endings and sensations, a plaything for anyone that came along. The part of him that was Captain Matthew Gideon had dissolved into pounding blood and hungry flesh. Where are you, John? Save me ...

Humming to himself, Max ran his hands over Gideon's shoulders and ruffled his hair. Max's fingers skimmed over his underarms and ribcage, tickling him and laughing when he squirmed impotently.

A faint touch and Gideon realized Max had found John's feather. He brushed the feather down the sides of Gideon's torso, reaching around him to tease the nipple clips with the feather. Gideon could feel Max's body heat. The loose fabric of his black IPX coat grazed Gideon's back. Soft, I didn't think it would be so soft.

"Hmm, now lookie here. This looks like a useful little device." Zap!

Gideon jumped and Max broke out laughing. "My oh my, Captain, how low you have fallen." He pressed the stinger to Gideon's ass and activated it. It bit into Gideon asscheek, a piercing jolt of pain, and Gideon shuddered. John must have been using it on a lower setting.

The stinger bit into his tailbone. Then his right shoulder blade. The stinger left waves of heat behind it.

"You like that, don't you." Max purred, his voice closed to Gideon's left ear. "I wonder what other toys our innocent little Lieutenant has."

God, John, where are you?

Max pinched his ass, sliding his large hands down Gideon's thighs. One solid callused finger slithered down between his asscheeks, tracing a whorl around his plugged asshole. Reaching lower, Max scraped his fingernail back and forth across the sensitive section of skin behind his balls. Gideon shivered uncontrollably.

Finally, Max stood back up and moved around to his front. Gideon licked his lips and tried to control his breathing.

Stepping close enough that Gideon could feel his warm breath on his face, Max dragged his fingernails down Gideon's chest. Max's breath smelled like strawberries and his large hands rubbed over Gideon's skin, tugging on the hair that covered his chest.

One hand played with his clamped left nipple and Max's other hand swept lower and dug into his mound of pubic hair. Abruptly, the hand buried in Gideon's pubic hair pulled sharply. Surprised, Gideon cried out.

Max was immediately pressed up against him, biting his lips and nose. His black uniform slid against Gideon's chest, the IPX pin cutting into his skin. Max's hand left Gideon's pubic hair and took a firm grip on his cock. His other hand was on the back of Gideon's head, holding his head so he couldn't pull away.

Max's full firm lips were crushed against Gideon's and his tongue forced its way into his mouth. Gideon struggled against this invasion, somehow more intimate than anything else Max had done. Max's free hand gripped and stroked his cock, his large hand pressing the rings into Gideon's skin.

Gideon fought more frantically, the erotic sensations starting to turn to fear.

Abruptly, Max changed. His sculptured lips became smaller, his hands finer and smoother. The cloth of Max's uniform that was pressed against Gideon's skin changed softer and silkier, with a knotted belt around the waist. Max grew shorter, so that he was directly at Gideon's height. The tongue that withdrew from Gideon's mouth was smaller and more agile. And his scent ...

Realization shot through Gideon. "John, you Bastard!"

John released him and stepped away, laughing softly.

"Not funny!", Gideon shouted. Anger and relief made his voice tremble.

"Maybe not," John said, the laughter still in his voice, "but I know you enjoyed it."

"I would have enjoyed it more if it had been Max tied up."

John touched his face, his thumb gently rubbing his cheekbone. "I don't think so," John said, his words a caress.

The fear and anger were receding, leaving behind a heavy buzz of arousal. He didn't need to say out loud what John already knew. To be helpless before the person on the ship that he most needed to be authoritative around. Now that he knew that it was only a telepathic trick, and there wouldn't be any annoying consequences, he could admit the sheer seduction of powerlessness. How the hell could John have known?

John placed his hands on the sides of Gideon's head and pressed up against him. His lips were gentle against his mouth. Gideon's painfully erect cock was rubbed by the silk of John's kimono, but he could also feel John's own cock hard and pulsing through the silk. He hadn't been the only one to take pleasure from telepathic charade.

John's lips lingered on Gideon's, then he suddenly stepped away and smacked Gideon across the jaw with an open palm.

Gideon yelped, "What was that for?"

"You seem to be forgetting who you are and who I am," John said sternly, "And you weren't very welcoming to our guest."

"But I didn't --" Gideon pulled himself up short, his jaw throbbing softly where John had hit him. He felt his bonds, and remembered the man who stood before him was not his John and was no less dangerous than Max.

Gideon ducked his head, "Forgive me, Master."

"I will think about it," John said softly, "if you are sufficiently penitent."

"Thank you, Master," Gideon whispered. Intoxicating apprehension arose in his chest. Would it be the stinger or something new?

John's fingers were at his nipples, caressing the crimped nubs. "I think it is time these were removed."

Gideon frowned. That didn't sound like a punishment. One of John's hands were on each nipple and with two small clicks, the metal clips were removed.

Gideon cried out loud as the blood rushed back to his nipples, lighting up his chest with burning intense pain. He arched his back, his shoulders straining against the ropes. John was firmly rubbing his breastbone, the sensation overloading his brain and lessening the pain of his awakened nipples.

After a long moment, the pain became manageable and Gideon was able to draw a panting breath. The pain faded to a warm tingle as John continued to rub his chest. John's other hand cupped Gideon's cheek, his touch achingly gentle. His hands left Gideon's skin then Gideon felt John's lips on his chest. He sucked softly at his swollen nipples.

Gideon groaned, dizzy with the alternating peaks of pain and pleasure, cruelty and tenderness.

John's lips left his nipples and traced a line down his chest and stomach, stopping just before he reached Gideon's pulsing cock.

Releasing him, John left him swaying alone. Gideon felt John kneeling in front of him, his breath brushing Gideon's cock as he breathed in and out. Gideon gritted his teeth, wanting John's mouth on his cock so much that tears came to his eyes.

Slowly, John stood up, never touching him. Gideon gave a groaning sigh, his desires left on the edge of fulfillment.

Gideon felt John moving away and he was forced to gather the tatters of his dignity together or beg for John's return. His bound hands closed convulsively as if he could reach out and grab John.

The music, so much part of the background, cut off abruptly. Gideon heard something and his head jerked around. John was standing behind him. He could hear the other's breathing, throaty and short. What could he possibly have in mind?

"I have wanted to do this for so long," John murmured huskily.

Smack! something hit Gideon's ass and he jumped. It wasn't John's hand, but something cool and flat. A surging heat spread across his ass, and the thing came down again. A paddle?

The paddle came down again, spreading another surge of heat. Again and again it came down, roving over his ass and down his thighs, leaving tingling warmth in its wake. John settled into a rhythm, and Gideon found himself thrusting backwards into each stroke.

The paddle came down but instead of a sharp smack with a flat surface, there was a caress of a soft furry surface. The next stroke was a smack and Gideon thought he might have imagined the softness, but then it came again, alternating with the hard surface.

A few more strokes with those two sensations.

Then ... spikes! He grunted in pain and surprise.

No, his skin didn't feel cut, but the paddle came down again and he felt thick rubber knobs, pointy, sending sharp surges of feeling through his ass. The soft surface again, then the hard, allowing him to catch his breath, then the spikes again.

Gideon moaned, the sound wrenched out of his chest. His whole being was focused on that paddle, and his breath rose and fell with each swing. The different sensations varied at random, never allowing him to know what was next. The blows were concentrating on his lower ass and top of his thighs, then wandering to his inner thighs. The plug in his ass was jostled again and again. The sound of the paddle slapping against his skin reverberated through the room.

... spikes, hard, spikes, soft, hard, spikes, soft, soft, hard, hard, hard, hard ...


Gideon clenched his teeth, expecting some new torment.

In the sudden silence, he heard John's breathing, harsh and fast, and the sound of the paddle falling to the floor.

A touch and he flinched, then realized that it was only John's hands, cool against the tingling heat of his ass. "You are so beautiful." John's voice was throaty and thick, trembling with excitement.

Abruptly, a clicking sound and Gideon felt slack in the ropes that held up his wrists. John shoved him forward. The ropes tightened and Gideon was bent over slightly at the waist. John wrenched the butt plug out of Gideon's ass and threw it with a clatter across the floor.

Savagely, John's cock plowed into Gideon's asshole. At the same moment, John's arousal telepathically slammed into Gideon's brain. Gideon whimpered as the twin assaults plundered his body and mind.

The seething lava that was John's desire poured through his soul, joining with his own screaming arousal and cutting fiery trails to every nerve ending in his body. John's fingers dug into his hips as his cock pounded into Gideon's ass. Tears poured down Gideon's face and his hands clenched into fists.

As if the sheer onslaught of stimulation wasn't enough, John took his own sensations -- the feel of his grip on Gideon's hips, the smell of sweat and honey, and how his cock felt as it dove into Gideon's ass, and connected those sensations into Gideon's own sensations, looping them together into a fierce rising spiral.

Gideon could feel John's breath on his back, and at the same time, knew how John felt, his lips hovering over Gideon's back, his breath pushing out with each thrust of his pelvis.

John's ears funneled a sound into Gideon's mind and Gideon realized it was himself. He was yelling, YES master YES master YES master YES ... He had a brief worry about sound proofing, was immediately reassured by John, then Gideon's thoughts whirled back into incoherence. ... YES master ...

Still ramming his cock into Gideon's ass, John leaned over and sunk his teeth into Gideon's back. Gideon screamed.

John's teeth dug into his back and Gideon tasted blood and skin and the sweet steel tang of searing pain. The pain spiked through the maelstrom of feeling, heightening the urgency. Their joined sensations surged as raging lava through Gideon, expanding into every millimeter of his body, pressing against his skin, filling every extremity with a maddening tension.

John paused.

Gideon stood rigid, waiting, desperate, tears streaming down his face.

John's hands peeled off Gideon's hips and crawled around to his front. Grasping Gideon's cock, John snapped open the device that had held Gideon prisoner so long. It fell to the floor with a jingle.

Gideon gasped in relief and fear. That cage had been the only thing holding him together, keeping him from shattering apart, disintegrating.

John's hands returned to Gideon's hips, and John's cock began slow long strokes into Gideon's blazing ass. At the same time, Gideon felt another pair of hands -- No not quite, near-real phantom hands. The hands were on Gideon's heated straining cock, and they were stroking him with the smooth firm touch of John's hands.

Gideon groaned, accepting the reality of his senses without thought. He only knew that the touch of the hands were bringing him closer to the precipice, to that rending of the body and soul he feared and desperately longed for.

John's rhythm was speeding up. Gideon could feel the pressure building in John as well, rushing into Gideon with torrents of molten lava. From a distance, Gideon heard his own voice, babbling, ...yes, please, no, John, oh, God, please, no, yes .. John was chanting something in Latin. The twin demands of their bodies fused together, spiraling ever higher until death or dissolution seemed the only possibilities.

Finally, the spiral ruptured and ...

                          Total eruption of soul, body, mind.

John and Gideon screamed together, the searing juices pumping out of their cocks only part of the total explosion of the senses, the tearing apart of the mind. Sweet release erupted from every pore of their bodies. The intensity of their twin orgasm was the core of a volcanic explosion. Doubled, tripled, expanding ...

Gideon was bursting open from within, shredding into tiny pieces of sense and sound. His body shook uncontrollably. Scalding tears soaked his blindfold. The force of the pain/pleasure was too much for his mortal mind and Gideon blacked out.

He regained consciousness just a moment later. John's fiery emotions were gone. Gideon was alone in the shell of his body. John was laying against him, his cheek resting on the bite wound in Gideon's back.

Gideon opened his mouth to ask John what had just happened, but no words came out. Gideon realized that he was still crying. Tears were running down his face, leaving hot salty trails behind. Funny, he had forgotten that tears were warm.

Warm, like blood.

Like blood pouring down his cheeks.

His cheeks were stiff with salt but more blood tears kept flowing from his eyes. Impossible that he had these many tears in his body, this much blood. It felt like tears were welling up from a source deep within him, broken open by John and his touch and ... Oh God, no.

He reached for some control, his old walls, but they had been torn, burned, and scoured away. There was nothing to shield him from seeing behind him, from seeing the trail of footprints that led to the present, footprints that were outlined and filled with blood. And the faces and the hands reaching out to him.

Faces he knew too well.

Faces of the dead.

His dead.


He tried to close his eyes, look away, but they were still there. Shipmates, lovers, friends, family. All dead because of him. Because of his failure at some crucial point. Because of his incompetence or arrogance or plain stupidity.

Every man and woman from the Cerberes was there. The five Excalibur shuttle crew were there, blood still fresh on their faces. His father. Jenna. The EarthForce captain he didn't even know the name of. The hundreds and thousands of people on Earth who had already died from the Plague. Every one of them.

All dead.

"All dead," he whispered.

"What?" John's voice, far away.

"They're all dead." Tears rained down his face, one drop for each of the dead. His body sagged under the weight of the tears, his legs made of water. He collapsed, only the ropes around his wrists kept him upright.

"Who is dead?" John whispered.

"Everyone," The word caught in Gideon's throat and came out as a sob. "Everyone."

He broke down and began to sob heavily. John's arms were around him, lifting him. John held him in one arm and Gideon felt the ropes around his wrists loosen. Gideon's arms dropped uselessly to his side. His chest expanded and fell with each sob.

John settled him against his body and reached out with one foot, somehow releasing the ropes that held his feet. Weeping shook Gideon's body.

"Computer, turn down lights to level 10%" John's voice.

Gideon felt himself carried and then laid down on a bed. John sat down next to him, gently removed his blindfold, and pulled him into his warm arms. He lay a blanket over Gideon's raw back.

Gideon couldn't open his eyes, his lashes were too crusted with tears. "My fault," Gideon said, his voice harsh and full of self-loathing, "They are all dead and it's my fault and I should have --"

"There was nothing you could do," John said firmly, "You always do the most you possibly can."

"I should have acted quicker, seen it coming, I don't deserve to be Captain, I let people die."

"You have kept more of us alive than anyone could ever hope."

"No, no, no ... They're dead, they're all dead. People die around me and I can't stop it! I can't stop it. Earth dying, people dying ... Looking at me ... screaming ... Why didn't you save us? Screaming and I wake up ...
Everyone I love dies ... dies ... I want ... I wish ... I can't stop it ... stop ... footprints ... the blood! ... gone ... dead ... "

Out of words, Gideon simply curled up in John's arms and sobbed. His chest ached with the force of his gasps, but he couldn't stop. John was rubbing his back, murmuring soothing sounds.

A bolt of fear hit Gideon and he gulped for air. "John?" he called out.

"I'm right here," John's voice was near his ear.

"John? John?" he sobbed.

John's thumb wiped his eyelashes so Gideon could open his eyes. John's strong hand tilted Gideon's chin up so that he was looking straight at John. "I'm right here."

Distantly, Gideon noticed John's face was also streaked with tears. His warm brown eyes were touched with red. Gideon reached out and grabbed John's shirt. "Don't leave me."

"I won't--"

"Don't leave me!"

"I won't!"

"Don't leave me, don't leave me, don't leave me, dontleaveme ..." Gideon buried his face in John's shirt.

"I will never leave you," John said fiercely, backing up his certainty with telepathic emphasis.

Clenching John's shirt, Gideon cried himself empty. Eventually, his sobs turned to heaving gasps. He laid his head against John's chest and listened to his heartbeat. His tears slowed and stopped and his ragged breathing quieted. Something cooling covered the open bite wound on his back and then gauze was laid over top.

Gideon lay in the circle of John's arms. Warm, he felt warm.

And quiet.

And clean.

He carefully opened his mental eyes to look behind him. His dead were still there. But they had changed somehow. They weren't standing, staring, accusing. The crew of the Cerberus only looked solemnly at him, waiting patiently for their vengeance. The people on Earth watched him hopefully, also patient. His father shook his head sadly but did not turn away. Jenna ... he had almost forgotten her lovely smile. The five crew Excalibur shuttle crew members had faded a little, still his responsibility, but somehow bearable.

He felt like it had been poison that he had cried, gushing up from a deep pool of foul poisoned blood that had been pressing against his insides, swelling, crowding out all feelings.

He didn't doubt that the pool of poison was still there, waiting for his moments of weakness and doubt, but the pressure had been lessened. He could breathe, feel, love ...


Taking a unsteady breath, Gideon lifted his head and looked up into John's face. John gave him a shaky smile.

Gideon continued to look at him, humbled by John's generosity and understanding. "You know me better than I know myself ..."

John gave a half-smile. "That's an Executive Officer's job."

"You're the damn best XO I've ever had," Gideon reached up to John's cheek. "But there's more, and you know it."

John's smile grew bittersweet. "Yes, I know," he said softly.

Gideon stroked John's cheek, studying the look and feel of his face, trying to imprint this breath of time on his memory.

"Matt, what is it?" John tentatively touched his hand.

Gideon took ahold of John's hand. "I love you."

John seemed to freeze in place, his hand gripping Gideon's tightly. His face and voice were carefully blank, "What did you say?"

"I said, I love you."

"You ... ?" John's eyes were wide and bright with astonishment.

"I told you I loved you," Gideon said, a smile growing on his face, "And I know damn well that those ears of yours can pick up a conversation halfway across the ship and you can hear me now."

"But you said ..."

Gideon laughed, a bubble of wonder and delight rising in his throat. "I am a stubborn man, it takes a while for me to figure out these things. But I do know that I love you, John Matheson. I don't when I started loving you, but I sure as Hell do now."

"You love me," John repeated numbly.

"Even after you paddled my ass."

John blinked. "Or maybe because I paddled your ass?"

"Now who's being stubborn. Now, tell me what I want to hear." Gideon tilted his head, waiting.

"Um, what?"

"Lieutenant ..." Gideon's voice a warm tease.

"Oh," A smile like the sun spread slowly across John's face. It lit him up from within with an intensity that stole Gideon's breath. "You mean, that I love you too?"

Gideon's throat was tight, "Yes, that."

"I love you, Matthew Gideon. I've followed you to Hell and back and expect to do so many more times in my life. Just to be with you. But I never dared hope ..." John closed his eyes briefly. When he opened them, they were bright and wet. "I love you, Matt."

Gideon grinned, "When you call me Matt, it's like you're saying you love me all over again."

"I've heard that repetition can teach even the most obstinate of minds."

"Are you implying -- " Gideon tried reaching up to grab John's shoulder, but he groaned and collapsed backwards onto the bed. Now that his head was clear, his body was reminding him of what it had just been through.

"Goddamn I hurt! I don't think there's one muscle, one inch of skin that doesn't hurt. What did you do to me?"

John lay down beside him, that sunlit smile still on his face. "I think you remember. But I could replay it for you, if you want ..."

"Nooo, no." Gideon rubbed his forehead. "I already have the universe's own headache."

"I thought that might happen with the telepathic bursts." John didn't look at all repentant. "I don't think I broke anything, though."

"You don't think ..." Gideon gruffly grabbed John's shirt. "I don't have that much in my head to start with, without you breaking any of it."

"I think I left you relatively intact."

"Relatively?" Gideon growled and pulled John towards him. "You better hope that there are still a few Captain pieces left in there, or you're going to end up running this ship even more than you do now."

"Oh? I'm not sure that's possible."

Gideon laughed and wrapped his aching arms around John's torso, holding him tightly.

"Where did you learn about this stuff and get all the things you used and --" Gideon interrupted himself, lifting his eyebrows. "Have you been practicing on innocent members of my crew?"

"No," John laughed, "It's been a while for me to and I've also been on the ... receiving end."

"Damn! Who?"

John shook his head, still laughing, "No one you know."

Gideon squeezed him, "Who?"

"Tsk-tsk, I think Matt is jealous."

"You better believe it! You'll just have to tell them all that you're mine."

"Oh?" John said, smoothing the hair back from Gideon's sweaty forehead. "Are you going to tell all your playmates that you're mine?"

"Hmm," Gideon looked thoughtful. "All those hundreds of women, and men, are just going to have to miss out."

"They will just have to," John tenderly kissed Gideon's bruised and abused lips. "Because I'm not sharing." John paused and raised his eyebrows, "Though, you know ..."

"Hey, hey, go easy on me, alright! I'm not nearly as used to all of this stuff as you!"

John curled up against Gideon's side. "I don't intend to go easy on you at all. And I think you prefer it that way."

"Hmph," Gideon responded, laying his cheek on John's hair. "When do I get to be Master?"

"You get that every day, all day. You're the Captain, remember?"

"Oh yeah."

They were silent for a moment. Gideon closed his eyes and listened to John's breathing. He didn't regret what he had said. He did love John. It just took a while, and some serious asswhipping, to admit it. John had the most generous heart he had ever known, along with a sly sense of humor, unwavering strength of character, quick mind, gorgeous eyes, great hands ...


"Yes, my love?"

A shiver went down Gideon's back. "I could get very used to you calling me that."

"I'll try to remember to use Sir on the bridge."

"And The High and Mighty Bastard when I'm not on the bridge."

John blushed and Gideon laughed.

"But John ... did you have to bite me?"

John considered. "It seemed the thing to do at the time."

"The thing to--" Gideon rolled his eyes. "If I need stitches, you're going to be sorry."


"Very sorry."

"Very very sorry," John ran one of his fingers down Gideon's chest.

"I could have you court-martialed for biting a superior officer."

"Kick me right out of EarthForce."

"Put you in a jail on some asteroid somewhere."

"In a cold dark prison cell all by myself."

"With only rats and bugs to keep you company."

"I'll make sure and name the biggest and prettiest rat after you."

Gideon burst out laughing. "I'd be honored."

John chuckled then his face grew sober. "Matt, where do we go from here?"

"I don't know about you," Gideon groaned, "but I don't plan on moving from this bed until the day after tomorrow."

"I'm serious."

Gideon reached out and cupped John's beautiful face in his hands. "I am too. I will never leave you and you will never leave me. But trying to plan a year, five years down the road doesn't make any sense right now. We will be together. Whether we are stranded on a backwater planet as the last humans in the universe or walking in an Earth victory parade or on the other side of the Veil, we will be together."

John blinked a couple of times and gave him a wobbly smile. "I love you, Matt."

"I love you, John."

Gideon kissed John tenderly and they settled against each other on the bed with contented sighs.

"John, John ..."

"What now?"

"Oh, I was just thinking ... you have special name for me, I should have one for you."

"Oh, no," John covered his head with a pillow.

"Johnnie, Jonathon, My John, Matheson, Mattie, Little John, Matsie ..."

A groan came from underneath the pillow.

Gideon grinned, leaned back against another pillow and idly ran his fingers along John's back. "JohnJohn, Lieutenant Brown Eyes, Lieutenant Lover, Johnsie, My Master, Sweet Ass, Supersucker ..."

A louder groan and a muffled "Someone please kill me now!"

"Johnnie-poo, John-boy, Super Teep, Teepster, Johnteep, Johnaroni, Johner, Matt's John, Lover boy ...


Five months had passed too quickly. Now that they were beginning to understand what they meant to each other, the situation was even more desperate. They had to find a way to get around Mr. Jones. Not just for this visit, but for good. An impossible task.

Their time was almost up.

{Captain's Chair} {Lieutenant's Bed} {Captain's Floor} {Lieutenant's Ship} {Seduction of a Linguist} {Destruction of a Telepath}

Witches Familiars

{Mistress Sarah} {The Upholsterer}

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