Disclaimer: I'm not really sure how to do a disclaimer for an AU. Um – Sheridan, Delenn, Ivanova, Marcus, Kosh, Morden, Garibaldi and anybody else whose name you recognize from the series are property of JMS/Warner Brothers. The plot is mine. The words are mine. Mine mine mine. Except for the stuff I didn't make up. Yeah. Something like that.

Notes: This is my very first ever Babylon 5 AU, so please excuse the lengthy notes. I am still working on "show, don't tell." The inspiration for this story came from a newspaper article I read about how gang warfare is just beginning to become a problem in the city where I live, which has a population of around 56,000 within the city proper but has had very few issues with crime until recently and is often described as "78 square miles surrounded by reality." (You'll see a reference to the city of Babylon proper in the same context.) I read the article, which narrowed down that there are mostly two factions that are an issue here, and then my mind started to wander and I went – hey, self. The Vorlons and the Shadows are kind of like gangs. No, seriously. And Sheridan and Co. are like the police force that said, "Get out of our city and never come back." Except, you know, more forcefully than that. And an AU was born.

I did a lot of research for this story, probably more than I've ever done for any story ever, and I tried to clarify idiosyncrasies for readers who might not have the same knowledge. When it gets to the meatier parts, if there are things that are unclear, feel free to call me on it.

One thing that I should probably clarify right off is that my research suggests that ranking works differently within a police force than it does in the military, and a Commander would rank higher than a Captain. Hence the chain of command structure here – which I will admit was tons of fun.

Summary: John Sheridan is a burned-out cop looking for a cause to put his life back on track – or end it. He finds it in Babylon, where two rival gangs are building to a turf war that would threaten the lives of the city's civilians if allowed to come to a head. Against the better judgment of his superior - Babylon's esteemed Commander Susan Ivanova - he takes a position undercover within the Shadows where he finds more trouble – and more hope for redemption – than he bargained for. Present-day.

Rating: R for language, violence, sexual situations, drug use and general suckiness of life.

Thanks to Shannon for being an excellent beta on this. I don't care what you say, I did too need it, and your help is greatly appreciated.

And with that… on with the show!

What Shadows We Are

Prologue

"A thunderstorm warning remains in effect for most of Epsilon County, with a caution that there may be some flooding in low-lying areas…"

Click. Drink.

"The Dodgers were up two runs at the bottom of the fifth, but a three-run homer for Gonzales in the seventh brought the Astros ahead by one, and they managed to hold the lead through the end of the game."

The Dodgers lost again? Fuck. Drink. Click. Drink.

"And finally tonight, we bring an update on the investigation into the death of Babylon Police Department Commander Jeffrey David Sinclair. ISN News has been following this story since Sinclair's mysterious disappearance over three months ago, and as we reported last week, his body was discovered in a wooded area just outside Babylon proper, near the border with the village of Narn. An autopsy confirms cause of death as severe trauma caused by repeated and savage beating with fists as well as blunt objects. At the time of his death, Sinclair was investigating a street gang known as the Shadows who have descended on the city of Babylon en masse over the last two years. By allowing Sinclair's body to be discovered, it would seem the Shadows are sending the city a message: They are not to be messed with, and they are here to stay."

Cl— No, wait. This is relevant.

Pause for thought. Drink.

Thunder caused the television to flicker, and lightning flashed right outside the window. John Sheridan glanced outside with mild interest. He barely took notice of the rain coming down in sheets or the clap of thunder that seemed to shake the whole building. Nothing scared him anymore. Very little touched him in any way, anymore.

His heart twitched, just a little – a flicker of feeling, and he quickly downed the rest of his glass of whiskey, sighing as the delicious burn of alcohol squelched that twitch in an instant.

Commander Ivanova – The Pretty Police Lady, Sheridan had decided to call her – was on the screen now. She was giving vague details about Sinclair's autopsy, and she sounded absolutely dedicated to bringing down this gang, these… Shadows. Sheridan admired her spirit.

"I admire your spirit, Pretty Lady," he told his TV, and then gave a frown as he tilted his glass to the side and only an ice cube fell out, making a pathetic little "thump" on the thin green carpet. "Even if it is a waste," he grumbled, not sure anymore if he was speaking about the ice cube, or the Pretty Police Lady, or both. Or maybe himself. Of all of those things, he decided, he was most definitely at least talking about himself.

When he looked at the TV again, the Pretty Police Lady was gone and the news was over, and now there was an infomercial about some sort of blanket that you wear. Sheridan shook his head.

Click.

But now he was distracted, and he pushed the "channel up" button without really stopping to see what was on. He was thinking about that report, about the Shadows, and about the Pretty Police Lady and what she had said. She was going to take down the Shadows, she said, if it was the last thing she did. She was calling on the peace officers in neighboring towns and suburbs to come in and help.

That would be him.

"That would be me," he said out loud, and then belched loudly. "Mmm. Tomorrow, though." He was very tired. He'd worked all day, filing reports in Agamemnon, this little town of which he was the Fucking Captain of Police, which mostly meant he wrote speeding tickets and told kids not to steal gum or call 9-1-1 unless it was a real emergency. It filled up a day, but it was mindless, mostly.

The mindless part was the problem. Sheridan needed something he could throw himself into, and this was not it. Three months ago, just after Commander Sinclair's disappearance, he'd taken interest in the story unveiling in Babylon, the story of the Shadows, and had decided this was exactly what he needed. It was a big deal – until a couple of years ago, Babylon proper had been 25 square miles of relative utopia surrounded by reality, somehow sheltered from the social problems that ebbed at the underbelly of other growing cities its size. But, as the news lady (who was pretty, Sheridan would admit, but not as pretty as the Pretty Police Lady) had succinctly pointed out, the Shadows had come to town and changed all that. Now they were a city that lived in fear. Businesses made deals, became corrupt, because they were afraid of what would happen to them if they didn't. Young people were recruited to serve as street soldiers. And then another gang had emerged, seemingly out of nowhere – they called themselves the Vorlons, and while they were less of a problem, they were still a gang, and they were therefore still a problem. What made them a bigger problem was that in many larger cities, the Vorlons and the Shadows were sworn enemies, locked in turf wars and blood oaths for decades. And that, it seemed, was what would happen in Babylon if someone didn't do something. If Sheridan's hazy mind understood the news reports correctly, the two sides had already had minor clashes in the city streets while citizens stood by. It was a miracle no innocent blood had yet been spilled.

And so, Sheridan had decided after Sinclair had been missing for less than a week, he was putting in for a transfer. By all rights he should get it – his record since joining the force was exemplary, and he had the rare advantage of having a history in two things that would prove useful in this situation: undercover operation and gang warfare. He'd spent nearly two years undercover in New Vegas just out of the Academy, and when it was over, they took down the city's largest drug ring and were able to… persuade… several of the perpetrators to give them a list of names of buyers. Eventually that had led them to securing the Centauri, a relatively low-profile but potentially deadly street gang who had been making trouble for the people of New Vegas for several years. Sheridan's involvement in all of this had earned him his first promotion.

And so there was no reason he shouldn't get that transfer. Except that he sort of sucked at life right now.

"Yep," he said aloud, nodding to himself. And Police Chief Kosh – whose orders Sheridan had gotten and executed for his entire career in Epsilon County but whom he had never actually met – knew that Sheridan sucked at life, and he knew why, and he had been the very man to assign Sheridan to this position in Agamemnon, which was barely a step up from a desk job.

With a dejected sigh, Sheridan glanced out at the storm. When it rained and he was drunk, he sometimes thought that God was crying for him. If there really was a God, that was. He wasn't sure anymore. He hadn't been sure for two years, ever since…

He shook his head and got up from his chair, clicking off the television as he did so. Might as well go to bed.

But he was navigating his way back toward his bedroom when his phone rang. And like any good police officer who was two sheets to the wind, he thought long and hard about ignoring it before he answered just before the call went to voicemail. "'Lo?"

"Your transfer is approved."

The wheels were not turning very fast. Sheridan cycled through the list of people who would do this kind of shit this late at night and was about to hang up on the prank caller when a dim mental light bulb flickered through the alcoholic haze. "Kosh?"

"Yes."

"My transfer… to Babylon?"

"Yes. Your destiny awaits."

The truth about Chief Kosh was that Sheridan sometimes believed he was probably the Wizard of Oz, a dinky little shit of a man concealed behind an impressive show of lights and fireworks. "When should I leave?"

"When you are ready."

Sheridan rolled his eyes. He glanced down at his blue-and-white plaid checkered bathrobe and took note of the smell of his breath. Well he was certainly not ready right now. "Ready for what?"

"To fight legends."

"Listen, you son of a bitch." Sheridan had had enough mind games for one night. What the fuck was Kosh talking about? Did anyone ever know? It didn't matter – Sheridan was in no mood. "If they're really expecting me in Babylon, if I'm really going into the fire down there, you need to give me more to go on than a couple of creepy sentences about destiny. When are they expecting me?"

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Sheridan had just opened his mouth to continue his tirade when the quiet voice came again. "You do not understand," Kosh sighed. "Two days." The line went dead. Sheridan resisted the urge to open his window and chuck his phone out into the rain.

Two days. He hoped to hell he was sober by then. He did not want to call Commander Ivanova the Pretty Police Lady to her face; he had the sneaking suspicion it would not go over well.