A/N: H:LOTS isn't mine. This having been said, Rose is. Muse of mine decided it wanted to switch up the H:LOTS movie a little bit, and managed to keep a few points, so here it is. Oh, and in case you all aren't familiar with this AU of mine, the POV is from Munch.
"You need to sleep."
It wasn't something that I was used to telling her. If anything, she was usually the one chasing after me to sleep, because it felt like I rarely had time to do so. That part of my life had gotten a lot worse since I'd gotten to New York City, but it wasn't one of those things I'd ever seen fit to tell her. She worried enough as it was, to the point where it almost felt strange to be worrying about her, since she was the one who'd always been there to hold everyone else together.
At the present moment, however, Rose was currently sitting at the kitchen table, staring out the window, with a cup of coffee next to her hand, one that I suspected had already bone cold. She made no move to indicate that she'd heard me, and I sighed, coming to sit down across from her. Even then, there was nothing to indicate that she'd seen me, and if there had been, I would have been surprised.
"Rose, it's been two days," I said, continuing on where I'd left off. "You're going to run yourself into the ground. I might be able to live on coffee, but somehow, I doubt it's doing you any real good."
Still no sign that she even knew I was there. It was almost strange. Two days had passed since I'd gotten the call telling me that there was a problem back home, and since then, it had felt as if we were all in some alternate reality. In truth, it had never really occurred to any of us on the shift that something like a bullet could take our lieutenant down; to us, and to the department, Gee had always been one of those indomitable figures whom the brass were afraid to screw with and the detectives were afraid to cross. But it was exactly what happened. One minute, he was giving some kind of speech, and the next, phones across Baltimore were ringing, and the first shift as we'd known it had been called to arms.
"You know, I used to think if something like this ever happened again, I'd be able to handle it, but I was wrong."
The sound of Rose's voice startled me enough that I nearly knocked over my own coffee mug, but before I could say anything, she went on.
"It's different, looking at it from this perspective," she said. "You never really think your life could fall apart a second time all because of two uniforms knocking on your door, but then it happens."
I frowned slightly, trying to remember when two uniforms might have had reason to knock on Rose's door, but nothing came. She turned to face me, then, almost as if she were reading my thoughts, but the faint smile on her face was more tired than anything else.
"Two days ago," she said, answering my question without waiting for me to ask it. "Kay and Meldrick were with them, otherwise I might have thought that it was some kind of joke, and I did, but then I flip on the television in here, and it's already all over the news."
"Wait a minute," I said, slowly. "Two uniforms came down here with Kay and Meldrick to tell you about…"
Rose nodded, briefly, and turned back to her task at hand. I stared at the back of her head for a long moment, but again, before I could say anything, she spoke.
"I thought I'd be able to deal with it, y'know?" she said, more of a statement than a question. "I mean, you'd think that eighteen years would be long enough that I'd be able to handle this, but I haven't slept in two days, and even if I could, I don't think I would."
Eighteen years. It was almost hard to believe that it had been that long, but now as I thought back on it, I could see that it really had been. Rose still wasn't looking at me, but I didn't need her to in order to look back on the night Abby and I had gone tearing through the airport to catch a red-eye flight out to Los Angeles, both of us looking like hell, but neither of us caring. Two days ago, it had been eighteen years since we had flown all the way across the country to bring Rose and her children back home to Baltimore for reasons similar to the reason why she couldn't sleep now.
"I always thought that after Michael died, there wouldn't be anyone else," Rose said finally, still without looking at me. "It wasn't supposed to happen this way."
Suddenly, it became incredibly clear as to why Meldrick and Kay had followed the two uniforms here. The two of them knew what I had not, and had come to reassure her when I couldn't, but now that I was home, their focus was out on the streets, where mine should have been. Instead, it was split between three places: the twelve-year-old daughter of mine who always seemed to know what was happening even when she shouldn't have, here, with Rose, and out on the streets with everyone else. It had never really struck me before that being a cop was a lot more than putting the bad guys away until now.
"I know what you're thinking, and I don't want to hear it," said Rose. "Abby didn't know, either, until she saw the uniforms and figured it out."
"You were never going to say anything, were you?" I asked.
"I don't know," she admitted, and I knew that she meant it. "Even if I had, do you really think you or Abby would have taken me seriously?"
"Abby hardly ever takes you seriously, never mind the fact that she and Stan have been at each other's throats for years," I said. "Even if she didn't believe you, she'd have no room to talk, because she's been with him for a year now."
"That leaves you," Rose said, wryly, and examined the coffee pot for a brief moment before continuing. "Abby's going to run this thing into the ground."
She was back to normal, but at the same time, she wasn't. I wondered if she'd bothered to talk to Abby about all of this, and then doubted it; for the past two days, Abby had been with me and the rest of the shift, running down people who'd had a problem with Gee at one point or another, running interviews, and sitting in at the hospital. It almost felt like if we kept ourselves busy enough, we wouldn't have to deal with the possibilities of what could happen. Then again, it was almost part of the job description: being a cop wasn't exactly what one would refer to as a normal nine-to-five.
"The last time I looked, I was usually the one who did take you seriously," I said mildly. "It's not really that hard to believe, Rose."
"And here I was thinking I'd get another lecture on keeping secrets," said Rose. "I thought Abby would keel over right there after she realized why the uniforms had come."
"Can you blame her?" I asked. "It might not be hard to believe, but it's not exactly something any of us would have expected, either."
"Oh." Rose poured herself another cup of coffee and leaned back against the counter, almost as if she were waiting for something; I looked at her for a long moment and then continued.
"That's not what I meant," I said. "It's more the fact that the two of you are too damn stubborn for your own good, but at the same time, Gee is a lot more likely to listen to you than he is to Barnfather or Gaffney."
Rose gave a derisive snort. "I'm surprised anyone gives Gaffney the time of day," she said, sounding annoyed. "Abby told me what he said to Frank."
"Gaffney can kiss the first shift's collective asses," I said. "Frank doesn't really give a damn what he has to say, and he's still running with us, but that's beside the point."
"Then what exactly is the point here?" Rose asked, looking at me over the rim of her mug. I sighed.
"The point is that it happened, Rose, whether it was supposed to or not. It's not exactly something you can just keep from happening, just because you don't want it to." I watched her face carefully for a reaction at this point, but there didn't seem to be one, and so I went on.
"When I say that it's not something anyone on the shift might have expected, it's more because I think we're used to thinking of the two of you separately. You're the one who chases after us when we're not on shift, and he's the one that does it when we are."
But it wasn't as simple as that, and just as this thought hit me, it occurred to me that it was probably only just getting to Rose as well. There were two sides to each of us on the shift, but none of us ever really thought about them, because being off shift was almost the same as being on: even when we wanted to walk away, none of us could ever seem to. Our personal lives often came crashing together with our work lives, leading to late nights at the Waterfront, time in the break room after shift was over, and other times when the lot of us would just wander around Baltimore with nothing better to do.
"I know that look," said Rose, effectively breaking me out of my thoughts. "What are you thinking?"
"That it never occurred to me that while you were holding the rest of us together, you were doing the same for him," I said. "I guess none of us ever really had reason to think about it."
"Neither did I," said Rose, amused by this. She turned hear head so that she was looking out the window again and sighed. "And I didn't think it went both ways, either."
It was something that I had the feeling she wouldn't have admitted to anyone else, except maybe Abby, but then, Abby wasn't here.
"Have you been down to the hospital yet?" I asked, and Rose shook her head.
"No," she said. "I haven't. I don't think I can go there knowing that it's all still touch and go. We don't know what's going to happen, and I don't want to know."
"He's too damn stubborn to die," I told her. "He's going to be back in that squad room giving Gaffney hell in no time."
I hoped, more for her sake than my own, that I was right. She nodded, briefly, and took another sip of her mug, before looking at the clock and making a face.
"It's late," she said. "You should sleep."
And there it was. The roles had been reversed again; now she was telling me to sleep, and I was the one who would probably sit up all night, which was incredibly ironic, because I knew that she would, as well.
But that was beside the point. I got up from the table, leaving my own mug where it was, and wandered over to where she was, pulling her into a hug, holding onto her for a moment longer than I would have normally.
"He's going to be fine," I said, more to reassure her than to reassure myself. "And we're going to find who did this."
"It never occurred to me that you wouldn't," said Rose, quietly. "Shift is on in a few hours. Go to sleep, will you?"
I let go of her, then, amused, and started up the stairs, aware of the fact that she wasn't following me and probably wouldn't. When the sun came up, for her, there would be no more letting anyone see beneath the surface, and there would be no admitting any of what she had told me mere moments before.
But there would be a new face for the nurses to contend with at the hospital, a civilian in the squad room whom Gaffney and Barnfather had learned long ago not to screw with and an honorary member of the shift doing exactly what the rest of us were doing: waiting.
Hours later, when I finally woke up again, Rose was already gone.