Halfway through the briefing, Jules catches Ed staring at her again. She frowns at him, spreads her hands and mouths, What? He shakes his head, mouths back, Later, and turns back to the sarge. She spends the rest of the briefing trying to think of what she's done that would explain Ed watching her so closely for the past fortnight. The more she thinks, the more bewildered she gets, because she realises - it hasn't been all the time. It's only been the few minutes before and after shifts, or when they're around the station like they are now. As soon as they go out on a call he stops, focuses on what he's doing and pays her only the same amount of attention as he does the rest of the team. So it's not related to her work. It's not her love life either because when the thing with Sam ended Ed went right back to asking about her dates and she went right back to telling him, so he already knows there's nothing there.
When they head out for patrol, Ed catches her arm at the briefing room door. When she looks up at him, he jerks his head at Leah, ahead of them, and says, "What's the problem?"
Jules stares at him. "What? There's no problem."
Ed nods and looks at her with the raised eyebrows and smirk that says yeah, and I shave my head for kicks. "Sure. She's having a tough enough time as it is, Jules. Be nice."
"I'm always nice," she says, automatically, but Ed is already gone, catching up with Leah and clapping her on the back, saying something about TImmy's and donuts. Leah turns and grins at him and Jules realises, with a slight shock, that it might be the first time she's seen Leah really smile.
So that's why, she thinks. Huh. It's obvious, really, now that she's had that little epiphany, but then, with hindsight everything is.
Leah has been on the team for more than a month, but she's still not really a part of it. There have been no inventive, ridiculous pranks played, no early breakfasts coming off the night shift, no late night drinks. Ed, Prank Coordinator Extraordinaire and usually the first to buy the rookie a drink and bring them into the tight group that is Team One, hasn't pushed for that with Leah. He's been waiting for the team to settle into the new configuration. He's been watching the adjustments and compromises and overtures, friendly or otherwise.
Lately, he's been watching Jules.
It's not that hard, in the end. Jules kind of likes Leah, now that she's stopped trying so hard, and she feels a little sorry for her - she knows what it's like to be the outsider. So she recruits Spike and one night the two of them take Leah out for a drink that turns into several and they tell her all the things she needs to know.
Like, the sarge is sarge, or boss; he's only Greg to Ed, and on rare occasions Wordy, because they knew him before he made sergeant and they have that right. He doesn't drink, and they don't ask why. Like, when it comes to assignments, Ed is the closest thing to God there is; the sarge can overrule him, but rarely does, and anyone else better have a damn good reason for questioning orders. He's not as much of an ass as he sometimes pretends, though. He's actually kind of nice, in a scarily over-protective way. Wordy worships his daughters and his wife, and it's okay to tease him about it. He has absolutely no tolerance for drug dealers, idiots or anyone who would hurt a child but he tends to get on well with almost everyone else - at this, Leah's face goes from doubtful to gloomy. She's been getting on Wordy's nerves all week, she knows it and she can't stop. Jules shrugs and tells her not to worry, everyone has bad days and Leah won't think Wordy hates her once she's seen him really get angry. Besides, Sam likes her, and Sam is sometimes a pessimist and sometimes just doesn't know when to shut up, but he's impulsive and generous and a good friend to have.
After that, it gets a bit more light-hearted, and by the time Spike has finished recounting the saga of Wordy and the Really Quite Incredibly Girly Films Leah has relaxed enough to smile. Jules tells her about Ed going coffee-shop on Sam's ass, and the time Spike tied himself in verbal knots trying to report to Ed and the sarge at once, and finally snapped and yelled at them both to shut the hell up! Um. I mean. Please?, resulting in stunned silence and a twin chorus of sorry, Spike. Leah has a surprisingly infectious giggle.
"So, what are you supposed to do if you don't know which one you should answer?"
"No idea," Jules says, shrugging. "I just make a general announcement, let them figure it out. They always seem to know who I mean, even when I don't."
"That," Spike informs Leah, with great seriousness and flaily hands, "is because they can read minds. Starting with each other and working their way out."
Spike, Jules decides, is slightly drunk. She throws a peanut at him and points out that the real reason Ed knows everything about all of them is because he is an incorrigible gossip. The sarge knows everything because he is a very smart and observant man. And because Ed is an incorrigible gossip.
"Ok," says Spike. "This is true. But. But they do do that thing where they hold entire conversations without actually finishing any sentences. Over the radio. It's all 'Ed-' and 'yeah, I hear you' and then stuff is happening and the transcripts get all weird and monosyllabic. It's like, like a hive mind."
Leah looks bewildered and mildly horrified, as if she's thinking god, what kind of certifiable lunatics am I working with, and Jules starts to say hey, you used to run into burning buildings for a living, and there's not enough money in the world to make that not crazy, but Spike is so earnest and Leah so confused that it turns into a sputter of laughter instead. The two of them turn and look at her as if she's the crazy one, and that just makes her giggle more.
When she can speak again, she elbows Spike gently and says, still half-laughing, "You really don't like being stuck in the truck, do you?"
He grins back at her over his drink and retorts, "Why do you think I always want a bomb?"
And then the grin disappears and he goes pale under his fading Jamaican tan, as if he can't believe what he's just said, as if he's just remembered how their last bomb call ended. Jules scrabbles frantically for something, anything, to say; anything to ward off the disaster the evening is about to become. Her mind is still blank when Leah speaks up beside her.
"I heard it's because you've got a thing with a robot. Weird story. But whatever does it for you."
Jules clutches at the lifeline Leah has unexpectedly thrown and tries to be subtle about keeping an eye on Spike. "Ah, Babycakes. You haven't met the love of Spike's life yet. And the sad thing is, I think she's cheating on him with Darren from Team Four."
It's stupid and trivial and too connected to things that go boom, but it works.
"Hey," Spike protests. "Their relationship is strictly professional and I resent the implication that I'm not man enough for her."
He's still pale and the humour is a little bit forced, but he's Spike again, not the shaking, anguished stranger that Jules doesn't know how to reach. She turns her head enough to know he can't see and smiles silent thanks. Leah gives a tiny smile back, eyes full of sympathy, and heads to the bar to get the next round. While she's gone, Spike stares at his empty bottle and says softly, "It feels like it shouldn't be this easy to remember how to enjoy things without him. Like it's too soon to be having fun. Is it?"
"No," Jules tells him, and leans against his shoulder and tries not to cry. "It's Lew, Spike. He loved this kind of thing. It's not too soon."
He snorts softly, almost a laugh, and she wonders if he's remembering something that happened in Jamaica or some other moment from the last three and a half years, or if he's thinking of the same thing she is, of the night she and Lewis and Ed had done for Spike something very like what she and Spike are doing for Leah tonight. Jules and Ed had spent most of the evening bickering cheerfully with each other and trying to explain the importance of pie, and Lewis and Spike had made fun of them ("You know your friends are crazy? Now children, don't fight." "I know, right? Can't take them anywhere.") and somewhere between the first beer and closing time Lew and Spike had become Lew-and-Spike. It had been that quick, and that simple. It hadn't lasted nearly long enough.
Spike tilts his head to rest on hers and says, eventually, "It's not that easy, either."
"No," she agrees, "but that's not such a bad thing."
Leah comes back with more beer and tactfully doesn't ask what they've been talking about, and they go back to educating her in the ways of Team One. Jules tells a few stories from her own rookie days and they joke and laugh a little, and Leah tells a few stories of her own, and it's not that easy but it feels pretty good.
After Spike leaves, two hours later, Jules tells Leah other things as well. That a part of Jules hates that the sign that read 'JULES (and Donna!)' is gone, replaced by the impersonal 'Women', but most of her is just glad that the guys don't have to see someone else at Lew's locker just yet. That Spike has been closer to himself this evening than Leah has ever seen him and that he has a better opinion of her than she thinks. Mostly Jules talks about Lewis, about his unfailingly soft-spoken good manners and easy smile, about the comedy act he had going with Spike, about his seeming quest to absorb everyone else's specialties by osmosis. She tells Leah that he was a good cop and a better friend and that they all miss him and need some more time before they can accept a replacement, and nearly reduces herself to tears because she hasn't even let herself think these things since the funeral.
Leah listens to all of it, even the goofy stuff about Wordy's predilection for melodramatic costume romances; she smiles in the right places and is serious in the right places, and when Jules almost chokes on Lew's name, Leah reaches over the table and taps the bracelet on her wrist. And Jules twists it name-up round her arm, clears her throat and goes on, because there are things Leah needs to know, and these might be the most important of them.
The next day, when Leah takes Wordy's side in the argument over entry points, Spike shakes his head and says darkly, "You've got a thing for Wordy, that's what this is", and Leah just rolls her eyes and makes an I give up gesture.