Title: Dinner
Author: Iocane
E-mail: iocane@crosswinds.net
Summary: Galen invites John to dinner on his ship.
Rating: PG
Series/sequel: Part one of "Dreams of Silence"
Disclaimer: Galen, John, the Excalibur, and all related names, places, and people belong to JMS and many
other people.  The story itself is mine.
Archiving: CDC, WWOBM, Selena's Galen Page, Lady May's Slash Archive, DM's Place, and the Crusade
Fic Archive all have ongoing permission. Anyone else, please ask.
Warnings: While this story is not necessarily "slash" in itself, it is the first in a series of slash stories. So I
suggest that if you don't like the idea of two men together, don't read this one.
Notes: First and foremost, thanks to Antoinette for her expert beta'ing, comments, suggestions, motivations,
and generally beating me over the head until I finished it. :)

Second, the following notations are used throughout the series
Single brackets [] around text indicate personal thoughts.
Double brackets [[]] around words indicate telepathy.

Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. This is my first planned out story of this scope, so any
suggestions you have would be wonderful.


John Matheson flopped onto his bed after a long, hard day. Not for the first time, he was incredibly grateful to Captain Gideon for ordering the double shielding installed in his quarters. The extra shielding allowed John to let some of his telepathic shielding down, though not all of it, and still be able to keep out the constant murmur of thoughts.

Still in his uniform, John lay facedown on the bed.  Too tired to move, not tired enough to fall asleep.  After a moment, he felt a strong breeze on his back. Coming quickly and fully awake, he turned to look for the cause.  Blinking, he didn't quite believe what, or rather who, he saw. "Galen?" John rolled unto his side, propping himself up on one elbow.

"Very good Lieutenant." The technomage's lips curled into an enigmatic smile as his eyes flickered over the other man.

Uncomfortable with Galen's scrutiny of him, he sat upright, planting his feet on the floor. "Is there something I can help you with?" If it had been anyone else, Matheson would have been asking how they got in and he would have called security.

You didn't question a technomage. Or call security on them.

"Actually there is." Galen said in his cheerfully mysterious way. "I was wondering if you could join me for dinner."

John was stunned. He blinked several times, trying to process the question.

After a moment Galen spoke again. "It's a simple question. The answer simpler still." Again, his fathomless blue eyes traced quickly over the Lieutenant's lean frame.

"But why me?" John didn't know whether to be thrilled, frightened, or both. From his seat on the bed, he could see Galen's body framed by his bedroom doorway. The technomage was in his standard black cloak, buttoned and hooded, his staff in one hand. Not for the first time, John wondered just what was under that cloak. Galen's voice cut off any speculation.

"I believe we have a few things in common, you and I. Besides, I haven't had dinner company in quite some time." That smile again, and John noticed an eager twinkle on Galen's blue eyes.

"All right." John wasn't about to turn him down. "Do you mind if I change out of this monkey suit first?" He gestured at the uncomfortable grey uniform the crew now had to wear.

"Of course. When you're ready, you know where my ship is."

"Right. See you there."

John closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, cursing the sudden spot headache. He felt a breeze ruffle his black hair and when he looked up, the technomage was gone. So was the headache.

After a moment, something occurred to him. "Did I just make a date with a technomage?"


Since he didn't know what kind of dinner he was attending, let alone Galen's intentions, John had settled for basic black.  The slacks were neatly pressed, the shoes polished. He wore a long sleeved black shirt beneath a jacket. All his clothes were freshly cleaned and fit him well. He checked his reflection one final time and found his eyes drifting to the bare patch of cloth that had once held the badge of the disbanded Psi-Corps.

As he approached the black craft, his footfall echoed in the nearly empty docking bay. The technomage vessel made people nervous. Black, and ominous, it often sat alone in a docking bay while maintenance crews thanked whatever gods they believed in when they were assigned elsewhere.

When John was still several yards away, he saw what appeared to be a door opening. A rectangular opening formed in the side of the ship, exactly in line with his approach. He could see Galen through the doorway, watching him.

"Lieutenant, right on time. Come in." The technomage was, as ever, clad in black. Instead of his ever-present cloak, however, it was simply a pair of leather pants and a heavy black shirt. He also wore a belt with a large buckle covered with ornate designs indecipherable to any but a technomage.

[And maybe Max Eilerson.] John though to himself.  When he realized he was staring, he felt a faint blush in his cheeks.  "Thanks." John stepped onto the ship, looking cautiously around. It seemed larger inside than it looked from the outside. The main room, from all appearances the only room, was large.  At the center stood a glass topped table and two chairs; set for two with a red candle in the center. The room was lightly scented with a fragrance John couldn't identify.  It seemed to be coming from the low, flickering candle on the table.  Galen invited the young man to have a seat.

Silently they began to eat, Galen glancing occasionally at John over the table. John was growing more uncomfortable by the minute, though he tried to hide it. Keeping his eyes downcast, he ate slowly, trying desperately to figure out why Galen had asked him here, yet fearful to ask. The young man was concentrating so hard on eating that he barely tasted the food.

"It's awfully quiet, isn't it, Lieutenant?"

"What?" John was so stunned at the sudden sound that ne nearly dropped his fork.

"I said it's quiet in here."

"Oh ... I'm sorry ..." John took a sip of wine to avoid further speech. [What does he want me to say?] He asked himself, risking a glance at the other man. The wine was red and sweet, again, John couldn't identify its origins.

"Lieutenant, listen closely ... Lower your shields. Then you'll see how quiet it really is."

John set his wineglass down, not realizing he was shaking until a drop sloshed onto his hand. For the first time in years he deliberately sought the background hum familiar to all telepaths. Nothing. Slowly, looking at Galen, he lowered his automatic shields one by one. Still silence. Finally all his shields were down.  For the first time since he could remember, John was completely and utterly relaxed. Not since he was twelve had he ever known such silence. He couldn't even sense Galen, though he knew from experience the man was quite unreadable.

"As I said, quiet." Galen's voice was barely above a whisper.

John snapped out of his trancelike state at the technomage's soft words.  "Yes. Very quiet. Thank you." He spoke quietly, wanting to say more, but unsure of how to say it.  Or even, what he wanted to say.

"Many of my people are born with your gift." Galen emphasized the last word, one of his eyebrows arching.  "As you could surmise, we found ways of ... protecting ourselves. And others."

[Sleepers.] John thought bitterly, knowing the technomage wasn't talking about the drug.

"No." Galen looked pointedly at the other man. "Not sleepers.  I can't disclose the specifics to someone outside the order."  His tone was almost apologetic. "But, needless to say, the shielding in our ships is far superior to what is available elsewhere."

John's mouth twitched at the unmistakable hint of smugness and superiority in Galen's voice. "I can tell..." The young telepath sounded distracted, as though concentrating on the silence. His eyes were distant, unfocused, seeing nothing.

"John ..." Galen said, stopping, as though unsure of what to say next.

John turned to face the other man, struck by how the candlelight flickered on his skin. If he didn't know any better, he would have said that Galen looked nervous. "Yes?"

Galen set his fork down on the glass surface of the table. "I know how tiring it can be to constantly shield oneself from all others ... I'm luckier than you ... I get to live here."  He indicated the ship. "But you have to live on the Excalibur." He continued speaking, not giving John a chance to reply. "I would be glad to talk to Matthew about ... reinforcing the shielding in your quarters. With the same shielding I have here." He looked earnestly at John, who seemed as unsure as he felt.

"I ... Galen, I ... Why?" John, again, was completely at a loss. Galen was offering him something he'd dreamed of for almost twenty years. And something he would never be able to pay back. He couldn't help noticing a look in Galen's eye, but dismissed it as a trick of the candle light. [He even sounds nervous.]

"Why not? I feel a ... an affinity with you. To put it simply John, I like you." Galen took a deep breath, as though relieved to have said it.

[But how well?] John asked himself sadly.  He stared for a moment, noticing, not for the first time, how handsome Galen was in the candlelight. "I ... There's no way I can thank you ..." He took a deep breath, inhaling the scent that filled the room.

Galen smiled. "Just think of me, and dream of silence."