Disclaimer: characters and situations owned by J.M. Straczynski, Ron Moore, David Eick and various production companies. Title stolen from Raymond Chandler.
Timeline: A few weeks after In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum, season 2, for Babylon 5; during and after s4 for Battlestar Galactica.
Spoiler Warning: See above. If you haven't watched BSG in its entirety, you will be spoiled. There is some foreshadowing for later B5, but no more explicit than the show itself does it, so really, you only get spoiled until mid-s2.
Author's note: Written for the Multiverse 2009 Ficathon. Original Prompt:BSG/B5: "Ellen Tigh, what do you want?"
Thanks to: Resolute, for the beta.
The Big Sleep
The Third Age of Mankind
Garibaldi knew she was trouble from the moment he first saw her. Blondes who walked on stiletto heels through a space station, had a throaty laugh and managed to hold on to their glass of martini in the middle of a bar fight invariably tended to be. Ordinarily, that would have just meant he'd take care to stay the hell away from her, or, depending on the trouble she was causing, took steps to make sure she'd leave the station as soon as possible, under arrest or not. He had some rules to avoid falling of the wagon again. Staying away from her type was one of them. So when station security was called to the Dark Star and he spotted her calmly sipping her cocktail while humans and aliens were going at it left, right and center, Garibaldi's first instinct was to tell Zach to handle it, so he could get the hell out of here. There was, however, one factor that made all the difference. One of the human men involved in the bar fight was someone Garibaldi had had in his custody not too long ago. It was also positively the last person Garibaldi had ever expected to end up in a pub brawl. Not him, thought Garibaldi, and resisted the temptation to wipe his eyes. No way. Never.
But there he was, throwing punches with the best of them, and obviously trying to get to the blonde who sat on a bar chair, drinking and watching: Mr. Calm, Smooth and Oily Himself, only not so calm right now . "Zach," Garibaldi said to his second-in-command, "tell me he's really there."
"Chief, I don't know who – oh," Zach faltered. "Wow. Isn't that the guy the Captain had it in for last month? The one all the ambassadors raised such a fuss about and wanted freed? The one you, err, took a leave of absence about?"
"Sure is," Garibaldi returned, still staring at the unbelievable sight but glad to have proof that he hadn't started seeing things when sober now. "Mr. Morden." He shook his head, then snapped into action, ordering his men to stop the fight and get statements. For a second, he considered ordering them to arrest Morden immediately. He hadn't threatened Sheridan with his resignation last month because he believed Morden was such a nice, deeply misunderstood guy. That man was scum, no question about it. But the way the Captain had gone about things had been wrong, and in the end, he had admitted it. Garibaldi for his part had decided to keep an eye on Morden and hope the guy would do something, anything, that would provide a legitimate reason to get him back into a cell. Sadly, getting into a barfight didn't qualify as one, unless people would testify Morden had started the whole thing, which Garibaldi severely doubted. But there was a mystery here, and it had to involve the blonde Morden was trying to reach. Maybe, just maybe, they had finally come across someone who'd be willing to give them the low-down on Morden, someone willing to dish the dirt instead of handing out cryptic hints, secret conversations with the Captain or diplomatic threats.
We'll see, Garibaldi thought, and while his people jumped into the thick of things, he went for the blonde at the bar. Up close, he could see she wasn't as young as her party dress had suggested. Some undefined point between 40 and 50, was his guess, which meant the hair was probably dyed, though she was smart enough to allow some grey between the blond curls instead of making it all uniform. Whatever age she was, though, it suited her. Her figure was still in nice shape. Was it ever.
"If you'll follow me, Ma'm," he said, deliberately not addressing her with "Miss". She looked him up and down, and her mouth curved in the type of smile Garibaldi knew from loan sharks, cheating gamblers and the occasional Psi Cop.
"That depends," she replied. She put her glass of martini aside. He hated his ability to imagine the taste of it. Not that he'd have gone for martini back in the day. Garibaldi had been a whiskey kind of man, all the way down to the floor and vomit on it.
"No, it doesn't," he said shortly. "Station security, if you haven't noticed. I've got a few questions."
She gave him a look. "Sure you do," she said. "But believe me, dear, you don't want the answers."
Not you, too, Garibaldi thought. No more cryptic talk. Not this time.
"Listen, sister, you can either come with me on your own, or I'll carry you," he said. "Think you can run in those heels?"
"You'd be surprised at the things I can do in these heels," she purred. By now, his men had largely succeeded in calming things down, which meant that they could both hear Morden's voice calm and confidently declaring this was all a misunderstanding and that he was on his way to see the Centauri Ambassador, who still had extended diplomatic immunity to him. The expression in the blonde's face altered. It just lasted the fraction of a second before she was back to her teasing, flirtatious look, but Garibaldi was a good observer; he caught it anyway. Just for that brief moment, she had looked deeply sad and weary, the type of bone-deep depression no good time girl would ever let you see. On an impulse, he decided to switch tactics. If it didn't work, he could go back to strongarming her anyway.
"Look," he said. "Maybe we can help each other. Call me crazy, but I think you need help."
She tilted her head and got up from her bar chair.
"Now who am I to say no to a man in a uniform?" she replied lightly. "Just promise me you'll provide the booze."
Trouble with a capital Troub, no kidding about it. He was tempted to hand her over to Zach after all, but then he saw that Morden was looking at them both. Not smugly, not smirking, no; the man had pure frustration written all over him. No, Garibaldi decided, he needed to keep an eye on the mystery woman himself.
"No promises before you tell me your name," he said to her.
"Oh, we're already at the name-calling stage?" she asked back and lifted an eyebrow. "And we haven't even frakked yet." He gave her an exasperated look, and surprisingly, she relented and stopped her act for a while. "It's Ellen," she said, suddenly sounding serious. "Ellen Tigh."