A/N: Set after the beginning scenes of the movie, but this is going with my AU in which the events of the movie get switched up and Gee's not running for mayor. Hopefully that makes sense, and H:LOTS isn't mine.
She's just about to arrest someone that the Fugitive squad has a warrant out on when the news comes.
It's almost ironic, Kay Howard muses as she runs up the stairs leading to the Homicide squad room, that two uniforms had come to tell her the news. Her feet feel heavy and her footsteps sound louder than normal as she makes her way to the place she used to think of as her second home, and it feels like she's never going to get there. It also feels like she can't really breathe, though this might be because she actually has to think about it. Usually, she doesn't. But this time, if she doesn't think about having to breathe, she is going to think about her lieutenant lying in an operating room, and it's going to freak her out.
So she thinks about breathing, for as long as she can, and when she stops, stumbling over her own feet, Meldrick Lewis is there to catch her.
"I was on my way to tell you," he says. "How'd you hear?"
Kay pauses for a moment, struggling to regain her bearings even as she leans forward slightly. "Two uniforms," she says, breathlessly. "Cavello and I, we were about to arrest this guy, and they come driving up…What happened?"
She hasn't been this flustered in a while. There are two times over the past few years that she can remember panicking and not really knowing what to do about it. The first had been when Beau was murdered, the second when Meldrick was in that car wreck that nearly killed him. This is the third time, and for some reason, it scares her a lot more than the last two times.
"We're already on it," Meldrick is saying, when she can hear him again. "We're gonna nail this guy."
Whether he says this to reassure her, or to reassure himself, she doesn't know, but it is exactly what she needs to hear.
In a classroom across town from where they are, Frank Pembleton is giving a lecture on religion, and beliefs, and trying to get his students to think.
He gave up being a homicide detective after his partner was nearly killed in a drug war that nearly tore the shift apart. But somewhere down inside of him, he is still very much a detective. It is the one part of him that he has never really been able to give up, and the one thing that he doubts he'll ever want to.
The sight of one of the school's priests standing there in his classroom catches his attention, and he walks over.
"Can I help you?" he asks, quietly, so that the students will not be able to hear, and the priest looks at him for a moment before speaking.
"There's been a message for you," he says, just as quietly. "From the police. They asked that you be told Al Giardello was shot this morning."
Frank can feel his blood running cold, and for a moment, he has to remember how to breathe.
The feeling is one that he's had a few times before, but one that he doesn't really care for.
He turns back to his students, at once. "Class dismissed," he says, and grateful for the chance to escape early, they quickly pack up and leave. The priest goes with them, having delivered the message he'd come to give.
The silence threatens to swallow Frank whole. He stares at the empty chairs, trying not to think about this latest development, because the last he heard, everything was fine.
He used to think that there was nothing in the world that could take his old lieutenant down, but apparently, he was wrong. Suddenly, it feels as if he can't breathe, and it hits him that at this moment in time, he actually has to think about it, or he'll just stop.
When the cell phone in his pocket goes off, he flips it open immediately, hoping it will be someone who can tell him what happened.
Miles away from the chaos, John Munch is in New York, putting two people in the back of a squad car that will take them to the 16th Precinct when his own phone goes off.
On the other side of the line is Meldrick, and a line he never thought he'd hear: "Gee's been shot."
He nearly drops his phone in shock. "What the hell do you mean, Gee's been shot?" he demands. "You better not be jerking me around, Lewis."
But the tired note in Meldrick's voice tells John that, no, it's not a joke this time, and yes, he really is serious.
"What the hell happened?" John asks, unable to keep the stunned note out of his voice, and then, "I'm coming home."
A few days ago, he swore to the members of this new squad that he'd never again set foot in Baltimore as long as he was still alive.
Now, he finds himself eating his words, but he couldn't care less.
And he, too, like his colleagues, though he doesn't know it, finds himself struggling to breathe.
As soon as he hangs up with Meldrick, he finds himself staring down at the water, thinking of Baltimore, and of the life he left behind. It figures, he thinks, that it would take something like this to send him running home again. And it figures that it would be the one that they least expected.
The feeling of his heart dropping to the soles of his feet is not unfamiliar, but definitely unwelcome. It wasn't supposed to be Gee. Hell, it wasn't supposed to be anyone, but it was, and now they have this mess in front of them, and if they can't fix it this time, he doesn't know what they'll do.
When his cell phone rings again, this time, it is Kay. "When are you going to be here?" she asks, and John takes a breath, exhaling slowly before replying.
The radio is not something that Mike Kellerman has ever really had reason to pay attention to, beyond the music.
There are more important things to worry about than what someone is saying about something or other…at least, most of the time.
The camera he's holding onto nearly drops out of his hands when he hears the news that has been racing across the city all morning. "…and this morning at a press conference, Homicide lieutenant Al Giardello was gunned down by an as of yet unidentified assailant…"
"What the hell…" The words escape Mike in a breathless rush and he turns the radio up, all concentration on his task at hand totally gone now. "You've gotta be freaking kidding me."
But this is no joke, and somehow, he knows it. His breathing gets suddenly faster, as if he's afraid that he's going to run out of air, and he turns the car around and goes directly towards the old police headquarters building.
He, like Kay, takes the stairs two at a time until he comes bursting into the squad room. Everything goes still for a moment, and he feels as if there is an invisible pressure sitting on top of him, but then everything starts moving again, and it's back to normal.
But it isn't, really. Kay is sitting on the edge of Meldrick's desk, and Frank is there, too, and they're all waiting.
"Munch is on his way," Meldrick says, to no one in particular. "He'll be here tonight, the four of us are here, so are Ballard, Falsone, Gharty and Sheppard…"
It is like he is trying to keep track of where everyone is, and honestly, Mike can't blame him, even if it scares the hell out of him.
"He's gonna be fine," he says, the first person who's voiced this out loud. "He's gonna make it out of this."
But as he looks at the stunned faces of his colleagues, he can see that he is not the only one who is struggling to breathe.
It's probably too early in the morning to be opening a bottle, but somehow, it's exactly what Stanley Bolander finds himself doing.
Life has not been the same since he and Beau Felton were suspended and he decided to retire out from the department. Leaving Homicide wasn't the easiest decision in the world to make, but he made it. And now he is here in this old house of his, holding a bottle and staring at the television screen in disbelief.
They are re-airing footage of the shooting. The sound comes, too, but he barely hears it: three gunshots, and the sight of Gee falling backwards are enough to make Stan have to sit, and continue to stare.
The phone near the television goes off, and he reaches for it. "What the hell is going on?" he demands, at once. "What happened?"
On the other side of the line is Kay, who drew the so-called short straw and therefore made the call.
"Gee's been shot," she says, and Stan somehow refrains from telling her he already knows this. "We need you down at the squad room."
He's there in record time, suit and tie and hat, just like he used to be.
"What've we got?" he asks, all business, because if he isn't, then he, too, might just start to panic. It's not a feeling that he's used to.
"We don't have anything," Kay says wearily. "Munch will be here tonight, everyone else is already here, except Megan Russert."
"She's coming?" Stan asks, surprised by this, even though he probably shouldn't have been. Meldrick nods.
"Everyone's on their way back," he says quietly. "We're officially in some kinda crisis mode or something, I don't know…"
But none of them do, least of all Stan, and at this moment, he desperately wants to give his younger colleagues the answers they are looking for…except, he's looking for them, too.
"We're gonna do this together," he says, finally, the note of authority since Gee is out of commission. "We're gonna do this together, and he's gonna make it, and everything's going to be fine."
He's out of breath by the time the last word gets to him, but it is the last thing on his mind.
The last time Megan Russert returned to Homicide, it was for a funeral.
This time, she comes home hoping that it won't turn into one. For now, Gee is alive, even if he isn't well, and she hopes more than anything else that they will be able to keep it that way.
"What do we know?" she asks, entering the squad room like she is still a member of this elite team of detectives, even though she isn't. "Anything from the hospital?"
She has to talk, because if she doesn't, she will fall to pieces. Already, she, like the others, is having a hard time remembering how to breathe.
"People are in the interview rooms," says Kay. "We're talking to everyone who was there; they're still coming in.
"We're waiting on Danvers to get us a subpoena for the footage taken at the scene," says Mike, picking up where she leaves off. "Until then, we won't have much."
Megan nods, wishing more than anything that she were still a cop. At least then, it might be a bit easier to handle.
She remembers all the arguments that she and Gee used to get into, and wishes that she could take them all back.
She finds it incredibly ironic that it isn't until one starts thinking it might be too late that they want to take everything back, that they want to apologize. But there is no time to worry about that. She and the others have a job to do on top of remembering how to breathe, and it's not going to be easy.
"Who are we missing?" she asks, finally.
"Right now, Munch and Bayliss," Meldrick replies. "Munch is on his way, we're still trying to find Bayliss."
Megan nods, again, trying to think, but it's a lot harder than she expected it would be. He was supposed to be the unshakable one, she thinks of Gee, now. He was supposed to be the one the city couldn't take down.
But she, like the others, knows that it rarely ever works that way. And even if it did, well…that would be too good to be true.
Tim Bayliss is standing in the middle of a river whose name he doesn't know when his phone goes off in his pocket.
"Gee's been shot," Frank tells him by way of greeting. "Munch is on his way and everyone else is here. Where the hell are you?"
It's typical Frank: blunt and to the point, and Tim nearly falls over as he steps backwards, stunned enough by the news that he has to move to keep his balance.
"On my way back," he says, immediately. "Is he all right?"
By this, he means 'is Gee alive', but of course, he knows better than to put it that way. Frank gives an exasperated sigh, anyway.
"Of course he's not all right, he's been shot," he says, irritably. "We need you here, now, Bayliss."
"I'm on my way," Tim says, again, and walks slowly towards the shore, wondering why it feels like there's suddenly an immense pressure on his chest. "I'll be there."
And he is, sliding into the squad room looking like hell at the same time Munch comes in, looking more than just a little bit upset.
By this point, they have found someone who might have witnessed something, only Detective Hall is being a jerk in the Box, and Frank isn't about to take it, so Tim follows him in.
Others have gone for the footage at the various news stations, while some have taken to the streets. But it is in the Box that Tim and Frank will remains, running interviews until Gaffney gets wind that Frank is involved and tells him to leave.
It won't make a difference. Frank will stay, and so will Tim, and even though Tim feels like he can't breathe, he'll find a way to do it.
They leave headquarters after the run in with Gaffney, Frank pulling a set of keys out of his pocket and insisting that he drive. Tim puts up no argument, feeling slightly guilty for being so far away from home doing nothing while all of this is going on.
"We're gonna find this guy," he says, to Frank. "We're going to find him, and we're gonna haul him into the Box, and he's going to tell us exactly what we did, and why."
"Still an optimist, I see," says Frank, but doesn't make any other comment besides this. Right now, the sentiments that Tim has just voiced are all they have to keep them holding on.
Later that night, they all gather at the Waterfront, the members of the old first shift.
Megan is there, and so is John; Mike follows Meldrick and Kay over from headquarters. Frank and Tim show up together, having only just finished running down someone who might have seen something. The only people missing besides Gee are two that they have already lost. And Gee himself is in a hospital room, hanging on by a thread, unaware that while he lies there, all of this is going on.
But it doesn't matter. Now that they are all together, now that they are all running this case and looking for answers, they feel once more that they can breathe; not only because they want to, but because they have to. And this is not something that they're going to let go anytime soon, because it's their lieutenant, their leader, and the one who still holds them all together, even when they're scattered all over the map.
And as the city watches, the murder police are called to arms.