A/N: Don't own H:LOTS. Fits with some of the canon in Fallen Heroes, pt. 2 and that is all.
Everything happens in a matter of seconds.
The thing about this is that most of the time, one doesn't think about time in seconds, but rather in minutes and hours, days and weeks, months and years. What amuses him about this is that every now and then, there are those things that one can't really help but think of as happening in a matter of seconds, because they happen so quickly that if one blinks, they'll miss it.
Of course, when one is a cop, the odds of this sort of thing happening are raised, quite considerably.
One moment, everything in the squad room was the same way it always was.
Seconds later, it had all been shot to hell.
The drug war that the city's been fighting is one they've been stuck in for a while.
Everyone on the first shift has long since lost track of when it started, or how long it's been going, mostly because they don't care. What they care about is finding a way to end it, and at the moment, it doesn't look like there is a way.
In a matter of seconds, the squad room has quite literally been turned into a battleground. There is blood on the floor, glass from broken windows strewn everywhere.
There are three uniforms lost, two detectives wounded, and the scale of a battle they've been fighting for years tipped in favor of the other side.
Baltimore, Mike Kellerman thinks, as he follows the others onto the streets, hours later, is definitely the city that bleeds.
It's a nickname that the city's had for years, one of those that came from a police department frustrated with the number of murders they had to deal with.
Most of the politicians in the city try to discourage the detectives from referring to dear old 'Charm City' this way, but sometimes, they can't help it. The names in red on the board are piling up, balanced out every now and then by a name in black, but not very often. The streets are a violent place to be sometimes; they've learned this the hard way a few times over, but nothing like this.
Nothing like a few seconds between a detective putting his gun in the bottom drawer of his desk and a suspect going for it and firing before anyone else can react.
The shooting is more an act of desperation than it is of any sort of revenge, and even if it had been one of revenge, Junior Bunk hadn't gotten anyone that he'd been aiming for months before.
But Junior Bunk is dead now, shot where he stood by Mike, by Tim, and Meldrick, and Lieutenant Giardello, because they'd had no other choice.
It's funny in a stupid, twisted sort of way, Mike thinks now, how that always seems to go. Your life against someone else's, a split second between dropping the gun and pulling the trigger, and somehow, that split second is all anyone needs to be caught off guard.
What he wants at this moment in time is some kind of absolution for what he knows he has done, but at the same time, he knows that isn't likely to come.
So he follows the others, counting down three seconds before kicking another door in, going with the others to yank someone out on the sidewalk. Waiting for seconds that drag into minutes that turn into awkward moments of silence for an answer that they're not going to get.
The Mahoney family is a dangerous one; this. the shift knows and has known for a few years now. No one wants to talk.
The seconds continue to drag on and as they do, the shift gets farther and farther away from any chance of finding Georgia Rae.
Second shift gets pulled in, to run things from the squad room. In the seconds it took for the shootout to end and the department's fury to settle over the streets, the case has become a redball. The brass want Georgia Rae Mahoney's head, and so does the shift; one group for political reasons, the other for personal reasons, because it was their shift, and damned if they aren't going to go do something about what was done to them.
This, of course, is probably not the best way to go about it, but right now, Mike is starting to think that it's all they've got.
In any case, he knows it's all he's got, because the minute he lets go of the cop persona, he won't be able to function, and he knows this, too.
Graffiti appears on the walls of back alleys across Baltimore as the murder police continue their search for Georgia Rae.
One second, these walls were completely blank, but now they're filled with spray paint, words that when strung together read 'Junior Bunk took it downtown'.
It's a message to the shift, to the police department as a whole: they can fight this drug war all they want, but while one second they could be winning it, in the next, they could be losing.
He spits, once, on the ground in front of one of the walls, echoing Frank Pembleton's move on the other side of the city, a message in itself. It was a war that Georgia Rae wanted, Gee had said, there in the waiting room, and now it's a war she's got.
None of them will be going home until she's found.
Problem is, they don't even know if she's still in Baltimore.
"She's gotta know her son's the one who done shot up our squad room," Meldrick remarks, finally, the first break in the silence that seems to have fallen between them since they rotated back into Homicide. "We ain't gonna find her."
"We're gonna find her," Mike replies, without looking his partner in the eye, "We've gotta find her."
This in itself, he thinks, isn't exactly untrue; they do have to find Georgia Rae, but both of them know that this is highly unlikely.
"She probably took off already," says Meldrick. "We could turn this city upside down, and ain't none of us would find nothing."
"Keep on like that and you might be right," Mike tells him, absently. "Where are we going now?"
There are only so many places left in Baltimore for the shift to go before they'll finally have to give up.
Somewhere in the back of Mike's mind, he knows this, but the part of him that took over in the seconds between the last shot and the shift storming the waiting room doesn't want to admit it.
He can tell when he casts a sideways look in Meldrick's direction that the other cop doesn't want to admit this, either, but neither of them say anything about it.
Instead, they go after the others, yet again, to a rowhouse on the other side of Baltimore from where they are, underneath the slim hope that this will be where they find the one they're looking for.
It took mere seconds for a reaction to flood through the department after the last shot was fired, seconds before the press was in their faces, before the brass came down from their offices, safe on floors above.
Seconds before everything changed, enough that this time, there's nothing they can do about it.
The seconds pass now, too, more slowly than they did before.
It feels almost as if they're suspended in time, like they're not moving forward, but they're not moving backward, either, and at this present moment in time, Mike is starting to wish that he'd just kept his mouth shut three years before and stayed over in Arson.
But he hadn't, and now he's here, because whether or not he'd stayed in Arson, the city would still be fighting a drug war, and the only difference is that because he left, he's now one of those fighting it. He catches sight of his reflection suddenly, in a window, and looks at it for a split second before looking away, not liking what he sees.
This, of course, is mostly his fault, but he doesn't want to think about it.
Nor does he want to think about what could happen in the seconds that pass between kicking in another door and entering yet another rowhouse.
This time, all the lights are off.
The place is mostly empty, and it only takes a few seconds for them to determine that there is someone there, and that he is going to run, and of course, they're all going to go after him.
A few of them disappear around the back to catch this guy should he take that route while the rest of them storm the place, looking for anyone else who might be there.
Upstairs, in one of the empty rooms, is Georgia Rae Mahoney, dead on the floor, murdered by her own men.
The irony of this is not at all lost on anyone, least of all Mike, but he spares a few seconds to think about it before going after the others.
Shots ring out from the back seconds later.
Mike goes tumbling out the back door, falling to his knees briefly beside where Pembleton is, shouting that his partner's been shot.
There is a series of muffled curses from Mike, and from others, as they chase after the still-fleeing suspect.
Seconds later, the suspect, too, is down, and the shift's anger is enough that a few of them can't help but spit on the ground before him, enough that a few of them can't help but lash out physically.
Above them, lights appear, suddenly, state helicopters, bringing with them too much noise and too much wind and really, too much of everything.
The shift, Mike included, are all too hyped up on their own adrenaline to pay it any attention.
The shootout took place at exactly 6:56 in the evening.
It's a time that none of the shift are going to forget, even though they want to; one of those times that they can't forget because three people died and the squad room's a mess, and no matter how much they say they want to, they really don't.
Mike has long since lost track of how many seconds have passed before Junior Bunk's first shot and the shift's initial reaction. He wonders if he'll ever be able to figure it out, but then thinks that even if he could, he doesn't want to.
There is already enough to remember. Too much time has passed for him to want to care how many seconds have passed, and in any case, he knows that he is not the only one who will be counting down the seconds until Bayliss wakes up again.
Finally back in the squad room, he sits on the edge of his desk, looks around for a long while, thinking of how it had been only seconds before the first shot.
When he looks at his watch again, it reads exactly 6:56.