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Team Bonding

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When Jules heard that her temporary replacement on Team One had been another female, her initial thoughts had been hesitantly happy to hear of another woman joining the SRU. When she saw how well Donna was fitting in with her boys, how well she'd integrated into the team, she had to admit that she'd been a little jealous and her opinion of Donna had dimmed somewhat. She knew it was silly, but there it was.

She had come to the bar with Team One to unwind and everyone had been more than supportive of her coming back, even Donna. She felt petty for sitting in the corner, alone amongst friends, sulking because she kept expecting her team to abandon her for this new addition.

Spike and Lou got up to challenge Wordy and Donna in pool and Sam joined them, claiming they would need a referee. That left her sitting between Ed and Greg. They had apparently been waiting for a moment like this as they both turned to her, Ed's face supportive and Greg unreadable.

"What's up?" asked Greg, putting a friendly arm around her shoulder.

"Nothing," she said, sitting straighter and starting to rise before Ed put a hand on her arm and stopped her.

"You're full of shit, you know?" asked Ed, his smile charming, like he was commenting on the weather. She turned her shocked attention to him. "I'm just saying," he added, laughing softly at her expression.

Greg patted her shoulder. "To be fair, you're not supposed to be able to keep secrets from your team. And your secret isn't all that surprising."

She tried not to squirm between them. "How do you figure that?"

"Donna's good at what she does. But so are you." They all looked to Donna who, sensing their attention, glanced over. She smiled, then shot them a questioning look when they continued to look. Greg nodded and waved and turned back to Jules. "I could give you a list of things that you're better at than her, and another list of things that she's better at then you. In the end, though, you're both valued members of the SRU."

"I know, boss," she said, sighing and accepting that they were going to have this conversation whether she liked it or not. "And I know I'm being silly."

"It's not silly. If it makes you feel better, I can tell you that she still doubts her place on Team One. She knows she's only here until you're back up to speed and she's terrified what that will mean for her when you do." He paused and made direct eye contact with her. "Which you will."

Jules smiled at his confidence. She knew exactly what she was doing to help motivate her, but that didn't mean it wasn't effective. "Thanks, boss."

"Tell you what," said Ed, grabbing his beer and taking a swig. "Why don't you two play me and the boss man at the next game," he suggested, nodding at the pool table where the two teams were neck and neck with only two balls each on the table. "Let you two get a feel for working together and see how you do."

She laughed. "So you're saying that a game of pool will make us both feel better?"

"At least between the two of you," he said, sharing a mischievous nod with Greg. "You'll be crushed when we beat you soundly."

***

The first game ended with Spike and Lou barely edging Donna and Wordy out and Donna was making jokes that Wordy had sabotaged her game by being too drunk to shoot straight. Ed and Greg stepped in and suggested she change partners to Jules. Donna and Jules looked each other up and down before sharing a look that spoke volumes without words.

Donna knew what Ed and Greg were doing and she saw that Jules was willing to give it a try and that was good enough for her. "Works for me," she said, still watching Jules. "What do you think, partner?"

They shook hands while Ed and Greg looked on with matching grins and the rest of the team started making bets as to which team was going to win. Donna and Jules automatically moved to the corner to plan out their strategy.

"Greg has a hard time lining shots to the left," said Jules, her back to the team in case someone wanted to try any lip reading.

Donna smiled. "Good to know. My weak shots are long to the right and corner pockets kind of trip me up sometimes."

Jules nodded. "I'd noticed that." They shared a smile. It was actually a corner shot that had lost Donna and Wordy the previous game. "After Spike's had two more, you should challenge him again." Donna raised an eyebrow; Spike had stated and proved that he got better as he drank more. Jules shrugged. "He gets cocky after four and starts listing slightly, so it throws off his balance. Usually Lou's had a few too many to realize it, so that's the best time to get them back. They'll never know what went wrong."

They shared another smile and there was a moment when they realized they could both do this. As much as the police force was a man's world, they were two strong women who had broken through the barriers placed before them and it had made them both better people.

They turned to face their competition together. Greg was watching their interaction, his profiler's mind reading every nuance and he grinned at what he saw.

"Alright, ladies. You ready?"

"Always, boss."

Wordy watched the same thing and loudly proclaimed he was changing his bet.

"I'm for the TOW team," he said, pointing at Jules and Donna.

"Tow?" asked Jules, leaning against the table while Greg set the balls up.

"Team One Women," he said and all the guys nodded in appreciation.

Five minutes later, the TOW team sunk the eight to cheers from both their teammates and a few of the other bar patrons. Greg declared that the next round was on him and recruited Ed to help carry while Spike, Lou, Wordy and Sam started arguing amicably over who owed who how much money, the conversation seeming to stem from bets from weeks and months earlier that may or may not have been paid.

Donna and Jules leaned against the table and watched the men with wry amusement.

"So I guess the boss man was right, huh?" asked Donna after a moment.

Jules looked to her and inclined her head in agreement. "We should know better than to doubt the Sarge," she decided and they both agreed. Another moment passed in comfortable silence before Jules broke it again. "How about we hit the range tomorrow and you can help me get my arm back in shape?" she suggested, rolling the shoulder where she'd been shot.

Donna grinned and held out a hand. "Sounds like a deal. I hear you're the best we've got with a pistol. Care to give me some pointers while we're out there?"

Jules grabbed the hand and they shook on it. "I think I can definitely do that." They laughed together again and hugged each other. When they pulled away, Jules had sobered slightly. "I'm glad they had you with them while I've been gone."

"Thanks. That means a lot."

Ed and Greg came back to the table then with more beer and they were pulled back into the fold of the entire team, talk of bets turned to the story of when Spike had bet another bar patron that he could beat the other man four times in a row and the victory Team One had enjoyed for weeks afterward.

Jules decided it wasn't so bad to have another woman in the SRU and that her worries about whether her team was still hers or not had long since vanished along with the first round.