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CHALLENGE: Submitted for the 5th Anniversary Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Watching Her
By Del Robertson


1 - Talia Winters

I don't believe this is happening.

It has to be a dream.

This couldn't possibly be real.

But, it is.

Look at her. She looks so smart in her dress uniform. Standing there at the altar beside Captain Sheridan. He's wearing his dress uniform, too. I thought he might have gone more traditional and worn a tux. But, then again, I guess a military uniform is traditional for a wedding, too.

Her hands are clasped behind her back in her standard at-ease pose. Eyes casually sweeping the crowd as she stands beside her captain. I wonder if she's expecting trouble? Her gaze pauses on Mr. Garibaldi seated in the front row and she flashes him a weak smile. His arms are crossed over his chest as he sits on the pew, looking for all the world as if he'd rather be enmeshed in a Dockers' Guild strike.

His expression is impassive as he stares at the Commander, but I can sense the waves of irritation rolling off his psyche even from where I'm sitting. Which, of course, is on the opposite side of the church from him. I'm a guest of the bride. He's a longtime friend of the groom. Silently, I thank my lucky stars that protocol dictates we be seated on opposite sides of the aisle. Otherwise, I'm quite certain he'd be sitting by me, doing his best to flirt with me.

Today's going to be difficult enough without having to contend with Mr. Garibaldi's unwanted affections.

Commander Ivanova is frowning, perhaps realizing that Michael isn't quite ready to let bygones be bygones. She attempts to hold his gaze for another nanosecond before moving on, scanning the faces of the crowd. Her gaze shifts, covering the left side of the room, beginning with Londo and G'Kar, seated directly behind Garibaldi. Discreetly, she continues on, surveying the rest of the chapel.

Her gaze falls on me. And stops.

Her intense gaze levels, meets, holds my own. Even without attempting to 'read' her, I'm fairly convinced I know what she's feeling. Anxiety - nervousness - confusion. She hides her emotions well from the casual observer, but to a trained telepath, she's broadcasting as loudly as if she was screaming at the top of her lungs.

I may know what she's feeling, but I don't have the slightest clue what she's thinking. Is she thinking about last night? Does she even remember?

I do.

We argued. We always argue.

I think she deliberately tries to antagonize me so that I won't get too close. So she can hide her true feelings behind a facade of animosity for Psicorps - for me.

She didn't hate me too much last night, though, did she? I continue to hold the stubborn Commander's gaze even as a sardonic smile plays over my lips. Her eyebrow arches in response.

Watching her standing there beside the groom, listening to the preacher, I wonder if I attempt to speak privately with her after the ceremony, will she attempt to avoid me?


2 - Commander Ivanova

Maybe I can avoid her.

Slip out a side door as soon as the ceremony's over. John would understand.

Why's she smiling at me like that?

It's all I can do to maintain my composure, keep my hands firmly clasped behind my back so I don't run my fingers through my hair. I want to look away. But, I can't. My eyes won't move. I don't think I can even blink.

What was I thinking?

We'd gone to dinner. Against my better judgment. But, we'd argued earlier in the day. And, she offered to buy me dinner as a peace offering. I should have refused.

She was gorgeous. I'd never noticed that tight, fitting midnight blue dress before. It hugged her in all the right places. And, the patented high heels to match - I nearly had to pick my jaw up off the ground. She was incredibly beautiful. Every eye in the restaurant was on her when we strolled in.

She makes me nervous. Maybe that's why I polished off so much vodka in such a short amount of time. I even talked her into trying some. A distinct no-no for someone in her line of work. Guess that's why I acted like an ass.

As usual, we argued. After dinner on the walk back to her quarters. About the wedding, I think. The details are a little fuzzy.

I remember standing in the corridor outside her quarters. Leaning in, attempting to intimidate her. Then - kissing her - ?

I feel my eyebrow arch involuntarily. It's something I do when I'm nervous. And, I'm always nervous around her. She makes me uneasy.

Maybe because she's so mysterious. And beautiful. And dangerous. And - stop it! She's smiling again. That little half-smile when she knows she's caught me doing something I shouldn't be. Like watching her.

Stop watching her! Stop staring! She's going to know you want her. Just like you wanted her last night.

Knowing full well that you should have been on your best behavior, on your way back to your quarters for a peaceful night in, preparing for the big day. What was I thinking, kissing her the night before the wedding?

Hell, what was I thinking, kissing her at all?

What else would we have done -


3 - Mr. Garibaldi

- If I hadn't come around the corner when I did?

I was surprised. It was well past two a.m. when I made my rounds. I thought she would have been in bed by then.

Normally, I pass by her quarters, two, three times a night. Just to make sure everything's okay, you know?

I mean, it's my job. I get paid to look after the station, the people on board.

Maybe I go out of my way to look after her. Protect her. The Captain's accused me more than once of showing favoritism towards her. It's just that she's all alone on the station. And so trusting and innocent. And vulnerable.

Maybe that's why she's always been attracted to the Commander. The good girls are always attracted to bad asses, right? Following the Commander around the station like a lost puppy, constantly looking for affection, getting kicked to the curb by a steel-toed boot every single time - only to come back, looking for more.

Wonder if I treated her like that, if she would have wanted me, too?

And, the Commander. Always shooting Talia down. Playing hard to get. Like she wasn't interested.

Yeah, well, guess she was plenty interested last night.

My eyes almost bugged out of my head.

She had Ms. Winters pinned. Her arms were straight, locked into position as she held Ms. Winters in place, palms connecting with the cold metal of the bulkhead on either side of the blonde's warm body. Then leaning in, kissing her.

And, Talia! Opening her mouth like that, coaxing the wolf's tongue inside velvet wetness. Not that I blame her. I mean, just look at her; she's just a confused kid, doesn't know what she's getting herself involved in.

No. I blame Ivanova. Completely.

She knows what she's doing.


I wouldn't be surprised if she hadn't planned this out from the start. Played hard to get. Crushing, beating down that poor girl until she had her right where she wanted her.

Outside her quarters, pinned to the wall while her mouth, her hands, ravaged her body.

She was all over her.

I may have overreacted.

Just a little.

Okay, maybe I went nuts.

But, I couldn't help myself. I mean, the wedding's just a few hours away, and here she is in the corridors at three a.m., mauling Talia!

Maybe I shouldn't have pulled her off like I did. Should have known that would only cause a fight. She's stubborn. Always has been. And, as soon as I jumped her, I knew she'd respond in kind, punching me for all she was worth.

And, then Talia. I didn't think how she'd react. I should have expected her to do something. Maybe stomp her heel and demand we air out our differences over a cup of hot tea like rational adults, maybe. Or, maybe go inside her quarters, locking us both in the hallway to quarrel like three-year-olds.

What I didn't expect was -


4 - Dr. Stephen Franklin

- To be awoken at four in the morning to patch up Mr. Garibaldi and Commander Ivanova. I know they've had their fair share of differences, but I always thought deep down, they were the best of friends.

A quarrel, they said. Over the Commander's date, Garibaldi ground out through clenched teeth. Not that Ivanova denied the accusation. Of course, she refused to even acknowledge Garibaldi's presumption.

Garibaldi's always been overly protective of the Commander. I know for a fact that he's 'discouraged' more than one idiot from hitting on her at the bars. Usually after some fool's had too much to drink and can't resist hitting on the beautiful Russian. I mean, look at her. She's gorgeous. And strong, confident. Self-assured. Independent.

And, able to take care of herself. I would have expected Garibaldi to remember that.

Then again, I never would have expected Susan to resort to biting during a fight. But, those were definitely teeth prints embedded in Michael's hand. Odd; I cleaned flakes of Cherry Red #36 out of the open wound; I would've sworn that wasn't Susan's shade. Come to think of it, I don't recall Susan having lipstick on when I examined her.

Oh, well. At least I got them both patched up in time for the ceremony -


5 - Captain John Sheridan

I can't believe I almost had to push the ceremony back. When I received word from Stephen that there'd been a fight, I knew I should have expected the worse.

But Michael - and Susan -

She's a little stiff. Standing a little awkwardly. I guess four broken ribs will do that to you. I'm just glad she was able to get her dress uniform over the top of the bandages.

Eye's a little puffy, too. But, Stephen was able to cover the worst of the bruising with makeup.

To her credit, it looks like she gave as good as she got. Maybe even better. He looks like he's tangled with a wild animal. I can't believe Ivanova did that much damage to him all by herself. His nose had to be set. Then, he sneezed and Franklin had to set it all over again. And, given the nature of his 'raccoon-eyes', I'm glad he's not the best man today. I don't think Susan would have stood for it, anyway.

She's always been protective of me. Of any of her commanding officers, I think. She wouldn't have allowed anyone to embarrass me today. Not Michael. Not even herself. I wonder if Michael said something stupid about the wedding. Maybe that's what set her off.

Not that I could get either of them to tell me what the fight was about. Even when I threatened to throw them both in the brig. I think Susan was hoping I would. I swear, looking at the way she's acting, you'd think it was an execution instead of a wedding.

As my X-O, you'd think she'd be happy about -

Ah, there's the wedding march.

And, there she is! I look up the aisle, seeing DeLenn striding towards me, wearing the traditional white gown of the bride. I push all thoughts of reprimanding my senior officers out of my head as I allowed myself to take in the vision of my bride walking down the aisle. Watching her, I smile.

The End

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